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THE GYPSIES 



BY 



CHARLES G. LELAND 

OF " THE ENGLISH GYPSIES AND THEIR LANGUAGE," " ANGLO-ROMAN? BALLADS, 1 

"HANS BREITMANN'S BALLADS," Era 



FIFTH EDITION 




BOSTON 
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 

NEW YORK ! 11 EAST SEVENTEENTH STREET 

Btemtift* 

1888 



SEEN BY 

PRESERVATION 

SERVICES 

DATE.. 'JUL. 1.6.1992^. 




Copyright, 1882, 
CHARLES G. LELAHBk 

All rights reserved. 



The Rivfrsidt Frr.if, Cambridge: 
tweotyped and Printed by II. 0. Houghton ft 



PREFACE. 



THE reader will find in this book sketches of ex- 
periences among gypsies of different nations by one 
who speaks their language and is conversant with 
their ways. These embrace descriptions of the justly 
famed musical gypsies of St. Petersburg and Mos- 
cow, by whom the writer was received literally as 
a brother ; of the Austrian gypsies, especially those 
composing the first Romany orchestra of that country, 
selected by Liszt, and who played for their friend as 
they declared they had never played before for any 
man ; and also of the English, Welsh, Oriental, and 
American brethren of the dark blood and the tents. 
I believe that the account of interviews with Amer- 
ican gypsies will possess at least the charm of nov- 
elty, but little having as yet been written on this 
extensive and very interesting branch of our nomadic 
population. To these I have added a characteristic 
letter in the gypsy language, with translation by a 
lady, legendary stories, poems, and finally the sub- 
stance of two papers, one of which I read before the 
British Philological Society, and the other before 



iv PREFACE. 

the Oriental Congress at Florence, in 1878. Those 
who study ethnology will be interested to learn from 
papers, subsequently combined in an article in 
the u Saturday Review," that I have definitely deter- 
mined the existence in India of a peculiar tribe of 
gypsies, who are par eminence the Romany s of the 
. and whose language is there what it is in Eng- 
land, the same in vocabulary, and the chief slang of 
the roads. This I claim as a discovery, having learned 
it from a Hindoo who had been himself a gypsy in 
his native land. Many writers have suggested the 
Jats,. Banjars, and others as probable ancestors or 
type-givers of the race ; but the existence of the Rom 
Jthrixclf iii India, bearing the distinctive name of Rom, 
has never before been set forth in any book or by 
any other writer. I have also given what may in 
<>n be regarded as settling the immensely dis- 
puted origin of the word " Zingan," by the gypsies' 
\>\vn account of its etymology, which was beyond all 
question brought by them from India. 

In addition to this I have, given in a chapter cer- 
tain conversations with men of note, such as Thomas 
Carlyle, Lord Lytton. Mr. Hoi-Luck, and others, on 

unt of ti. i>d family 11. 

and personal characteristics of English and American 

Koiuanys, pn-paivd for me l>y a very famous old 

iiid finally a chapter on tin; 4 * Slielta Thari," 

or Tiul;' . a very curious jargon "i 1 l.'in- 

i'>ned before by any writ--, 
Sha What this tongue /nay be, beyond the 



PREFACE. v 

fact that it is purely Celtic, and that it does not seem 
to be identical with any other Celtic dialect, is un- 
known to me. I class it with the gypsy, because all 
who speak it are also acquainted with Romany. 

For an attempt to set forth the tone or feeling in 
which the sketches are conceived, I refer the reader 
to the Introduction. 

When I published my " English Gypsies and their 
Language," a reviewer declared that I " had added 
nothing to our " (that is, his) " knowledge on the 
subject." As it is always pleasant to meet with a 
man of superior information, I said nothing. And 
as I had carefully read everything ever printed on 
the Romany, and had given a very respectable collec- 
tion of what was new to me as well as to all my 
Romany rye colleagues in Europe, I could only grieve 
to think that such treasures of learning should thus 
remain hidden in the brain of one who had never at 
any time or in any other way manifested the posses- 
sion of an}^ remarkable knowledge. Nobody can tell 
in this world what others may know, but I modestly 
suggest that what I have set forth in this work, on 
the origin of the gypsies, though it may be known to 
the reviewer in question, has at least never been set 
before the public by anybody but myself, and that 
it deserves further investigation. No account of the 
tribes of the East mentions the Rom or Trablus, 
and yet I have personally met with and thoroughly 
examined one of them. In like manner, the " Shelta 
Thari " has remained till the present day entirely 



Vi PREFACE. 

unknown to all writers on either the languages or 
the nomadic people of Great Britain. If we are so 
ignorant of the wanderers among us, and at our very 
doors, it is not remarkable that we should be igno- 
rant of those of India. 



CONTENTS. 

Page 

INTRODUCTION 9 

KUSSIAN GYPSIES 17 

AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 1 67 

II. Austrian Gypsies in Philadelphia ... 91 
ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

I. OatlandsPark 97 

II. Walking and Visiting 119 

III. CobhamFair 130 

IV. The Mixed Fortunes 145 

V. Hampton Races 152 

VI. Street Sketches 161 

VII. Of Certain Gentlemen and Gypsies . . .172 
WELSH GYPSIES. 

I. Mat Woods the Fiddler 189 

II. The Pious Washerwoman 198 

III. The Gypsies at Aberystwith .... 207 
AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

I. Gypsies in Philadelphia . . ... 227 

II. The Crocus-Pitcher 241 

III. Gypsies in Camp. (New Jersey.) . . .251 

IV. House Gypsies in Philadelphia .... 260 
V. A Gypsy Letter 272 



Viii CONTENTS. 

Page 
GYPSIES IN THE EAST 288 

i i,s AM) FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS . . .304 
KII :s ix KOMAXY, WITH TRANSLATION . . 312 

Tin: <>I;H;I.\ ,,].- nn; GYPSIES 331 

i-SY MAGIC SPELL 348 

SlIELTA, THE TINKERS* TALK . . 354 



INTRODUCTION. 



I HAVE frequently been asked, "Why do you take 
an interest in gypsies ? " 

And it is not so easy to answer. Why, indeed ? 
In Spain one who has been fascinated by them is 
called one of the aficion, or affection, or " fancy ; " he is 
an aficionado,. or affected unto them, and people there 
know perfectly what it means, for every Spaniard is 
at heart a Bohemian. He feels what a charm there 
is in a wandering life, in camping in lonely places, 
under old chestnut-trees, near towering cliffs, al 
pasar del arroyo, by the rivulets among the rocks. 
He thinks of the wine skin and wheaten cake when 
one was hungry on the road, of the mules and tinkling 
bells, the fire by night, and the cigarito, smoked till 
he fell asleep. Then he remembers the gypsies who 
came to the camp, and the black-eyed girl who told 
him his fortune, and all that followed in the rosy 
dawn and ever onward into starry night. 

" Y se alegre el alma llena 
De la luz de esos luceros." 

And his heart is filled with rapture 
At the light of those lights above. 

This man understands it. So, too, does many an 
Englishman. But I cannot tell you why. Why do 
I love to wander on the roads to hear the birds ; to 



10 INTRODUCTION. 

see old chnrch towers afar, rising over fringes of for- 
est, a river and a bridge in the foreground, and an 

nt castle beyond, with a modern village spring- 
ing up about it, just as at the foot of the burg there 
lies the falling trunk of an old tree, around which 
weeds and flowers are springing up, nourished by its 
decay ? Why love these better than pictures, and 
with a more than fine-art feeling ? Because on the 
roads, among such scenes, between the hedge-rows 
and by the river, I find the wanderers who properly 
inhabit not the houses but the scene, not a part but 
the whole. These are the gypsies, who live like the 
birds and hares, not of the house-born or the town- 
bred, but free and at home only with nature. 

I am at some pleasant watering-place, no matter 
where. Let it be Torquay, or Ilf racombe, or Aberyst- 
with, or Bath, or Bournemouth, or Hastings. I 
find out what old churches, castles, towns, towers, 
manors, lakes, forests, fairy-wells, or other charms of 
England lie within twenty miles. Then I take my 
staff and sketch-book, and set out on my day's pil- 
grimage. In the distance lie the lines of the shining 

\vith ships sailing to unknown lands. Those who 
live in tin-in are the Bohemians of the sea, homing 
while roaming, sleeping as they go, even as gypsies 
dwell on wheels. And if you look wistfully at 1 
ships far ofT and out at sea with the sun upon their 

. and wonder what quaint mysteries of life they 
hide, verily you are not far from being affected or 
elected unto the Romany. And if, when you see 
tin- wild birds on the, win^, wending their way to 
the South, and wish that you could ily with them, 
;i' anywhere over the world and into ad- 

you are not far in spirit from the 



I NTR D UCTION. 1 1 

kingdom of Bohemia and its seven castles, in the 
deep windows of which JEolian wind-harps sing for- 
ever. 

Now, as you wander along, it may be that in the 
wood and by some grassy nook you will hear voices, 
and see the gleam of a red garment, and then find a 
man of the roads, with dusky wife and child. You 
speak one word, " Sarishan ! " and you are introduced. 
These people are like birds and bees, they belong to 
out-of-doors and nature. If you can chirp or buzz 
a little in their language and know their ways, you 
will find out, as you sit in the forest, why he who 
loves green bushes and mossy rocks is glad to fly 
from cities, and likes to be free of the joyous citizen- 
ship of the roads, and everywhere at home in such 
boon company. 

When I have been a stranger in a strange town, I 
have never gone out for a long walk without know- 
ing that the chances were that I should meet within 
an hour some wanderer with whom I should have in 
common certain acquaintances. These be indeed 
humble folk, but with nature and summer walks they 
make me at home. In merrie England I could nowhere 
be a stranger if I would, and that with people who 
cannot read ; and the English-born Romany rye, or 
gentleman speaking gypsy, would in like manner be 
everywhere at home in America. There was a gypsy 
family always roaming between Windsor and Lon- 
don, and the first words taught to their youngest child 
were " Romany rye ! ' and these it was trained to 
address to me. The little tot came up to me, I had 
never heard her speak before, a little brown-faced, 
black-eyed thing, and said, " How-do, Omany 'eye ? ' 
and great was the triumph and rejoicing and laughter 



12 INTRODUCTION. 

of the in oilier and father and all the little tribe. To 
amiliiir with these wanderers, who live by dale 
and down, is like having the bees come to you, as 
th.-y did to the Dacian damsel, whose death they 
mourned ; it is like the attraction of the wild deer to 
the fair Genevieve ; or if you know them to be danger- 
ous outlaws, as some are, it is like the affection of 
serpents and other wild things for those whom nature 
lias made their friends, and who handle them with- 
out fear. They are human, but in their lives they 
are between man as he lives in houses and the bee 
and bird and fox, and I cannot help believing that 
those who have no sympathy with them have none 
fur the forest and road, and cannot be rightly familiar 
with the witchery of wood and wold. There are 
many ladies and gentlemen who can well-nigh die of 
a sunset, and be enraptured with " bits " of color, 
and captured with scenes, and to whom all out-of- 
>erfect as though it were painted by 
Millais, yet to whom the bee and bird and gypsy 
and red Indian ever remain in their true inner life 
igers, And just, as strange to them, in one sense, 
68 in whieh these creatures dwell; for 
who see in them only pictures, though they be 
by Claude and Turner, can never behold in them 
the, fairy-land of childhood. Only in Ruysdael and 
Salvator Rosa and the. great unconscious artists 
lurks the spell of the Romany, and this spell is un- 
f'lt by Mr. Cimal'iie lirown. The child and the 
HO words in which to express their sense 
of nature and its charm, but they have this sense, 
und ther .-, ]u>, Mnjiiiring culture, 

rudually disappearing from the 
d, just as the old delicately sensuous, naive, pic- 



INTRODUCTION. 13 

turesque type of woman's beauty the perfection of 
natural beauty is rapidly vanishing in every coun- 
try, and being replaced by the mingled real and un- 
real attractiveness of " cleverness," intellect, and fash- 
ion. No doubt the newer tend to higher forms of 
culture, but it is not without pain that he who has 
been " in the spirit " in the old Sabbath of the soul, 
and in its quiet, solemn sunset, sees it all vanishing. 
It will all be gone in a few years. I doubt very much 
whether it will be possible for the most unaffectedly 
natural writer to preserve any of its hieroglyphics for 
future Champollions of sentiment to interpret. In 
the coming days, when man shall have developed new 
senses, and when the blessed sun himself shall per- 
haps have been supplanted by some tremendous elec- 
trical light, and the rnoon be expunged altogether as 
interfering with the new arrangements for gravity, 
there will doubtless be a new poetry, and art become 
to the very last degree self-conscious of its cleverness, 
artificial and impressional ; yet even then weary schol- 
ars will sigh from time to time, as they read in our 
books of the ancient purple seas, and how the sun 
went down of old into cloud-land, gorgeous land, and 
then how all dreamed away into night ! 

Gypsies are the human types of this vanishing, 
direct love of nature, of this mute sense of rural 
romance, and of al fresco life, and he who does not 
recognize it in them, despite their rags and dis- 
honesty, need not pretend to appreciate anything 
more in Callot's etchings than the skillful manage- 
ment of the needle and the acids. Truly they are but 
rags themselves ; the last rags of the old romance 
which connected man with nature. Once romance 
was a splendid mediaeval drama, colored and gemmed 



14 INTRODUCTION. 

with chivalry, minnesong, bandit-flashes, and waving 
plumes ; now there remain but a few tatters. Yes, 
IK! foolish then, but there are per- 
ishing with the wretched fragments of the red Indian 
tribes mythologies as beautiful as those of the (Jreek 
or Norseman ; and there is also vanishing with the 
\ an unexpressed mythology, which those who 
to come after us would gladly recover. Would 
we not have been pleased if one of the thousand Latin 
men of letters whose works have been preserved had 
told us how the old Etruseans, then still living in 
mountain villages, spoke and habited and customed ? 
l>ut oh that there had overlived of old one man who, 
noting how feelings and sentiments ehauged, tried to 
BO set forth the souls of his time that after-comers 
might understand what it was which inspired their 

In the Sanskrit humorous romance of " Baital Pa- 
'." or King Vikrani and the Vampire, twenty-five 
different and disconnected trifling stories serve col- 
lectively to illustrate in (he, most pointed manner the 
hig!;< i of wisdom. In this book th< 

and the scenes which surround them, are intended to 
-I) of freedom and nature. Never were 
>iis ninn- needed than at present. I do not 
!iat culture is opposed to the percept :<M1 of nat- 
I would show with all my power that the 
higher Miir culture the nmre v :dly qualified 

!om. BII must 

pened for this, and unfortunately the gat 

few, while Philistinism in every form 
inaK v opening to the 

i of delight. 

gypsy is one of many links which connect the 



INTRODUCTION. 15 

simple feeling of nature with romance. During the 
Middle Ages thousands of such links and symbols 
united nature with religion. Thus Conrad von 
Wiirtzburg tells in his " Goldene Schmiede " that the 
parrot which shines in fairest grass-green hue, and 
yet like common grass is never wet, sets forth the Vir- 
gin, who bestowed on man an endless spring, and yet 
remained unchanged. So the parrot and grass and 
green, and shimmering light all blended in the ideal 
of the immortal Maid-Mother, and so the bird ap- 
pears in pictures by Van Eyck and Diirer. To me 
the gypsy-parrot and green grass in lonely lanes and 
the rain and sunshine all mingle to set forth the in- 
expressible purity and sweetness of the virgin parent, 
Nature. For the gypsy is parrot-like, a quaint pil- 
ferer, a rogue in grain as in gften ; for green was 
his favorite garb in olden time in England, as it is 
' to-day in Germany, where he who breaks the Rom- 
any law may never dare on heath to wear that fatal 
fairy color. 

These words are the key to the following book, in 
which I shall set forth a few sketches taken during 
my rambles among the Romany. The day is coining 
when there will be no more wild parrots nor wild 
wanderers, no wild nature, and certainly no gypsies. 
Within a very few years in the city of Philadelphia, 
the English sparrow, the very cit and cad of birds, 
has driven from the gardens all the wild, beautiful 
feathered creatures whom, as a boy, I knew. The 
fire-flashing scarlet tanager and the humming-bird, 
the yellow-bird, blue-bird, and golden oriole, are 
now almost forgotten, or unknown to city children. 
So the people of self-conscious culture and the mart 
and factory are banishing the wilder sort, and it 



16 /. INTRODUCTION. 

ri^lit. mid so it must be, and therewith basta ! 

i don reviewer said when I asserted in 

a book that the child was perhaps born who would 

-i7P s y " Somehow we feel sorry for that 

child," 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 



IT is, I believe, seldom observed that the world 
is so far from having quitted the romantic or senti- 
mental for the purely scientific that, even in science 
itself, whatever is best set forth owes half its charm 
to something delicately and distantly reflected from 
the forbidden land of fancy. The greatest reasoners 
and writers on the driest topics are still " genial," 
because no man ever yet had true genius who did not 
feel the inspiration of poetry, or mystery, or at least 
of the unusual. We are not rid of the marvelous 
or curious, arid, if we have not yet a science of curi- 
osities, it is apparently because it lies for the present 
distributed about among the other sciences, just as 
in small museums illuminated manuscripts are to be 
.found in happy family union with stuffed birds or 
minerals, and with watches and snuff-boxes, once the 
property of their late majesties the Georges. Until 
such a science is formed, the new one of ethnology 
may appropriately serve for it, since it of all presents 
most attraction to him who is politely called the gen- 
eral reader, but who should in truth be called the 
man who reads the most for mere amusement. For 
Ethnology deals with such delightful material as 
primeval kumbo-cephalic skulls, and appears to her 
votaries arrayed, not in silk attire, but in strange frag- 
a 



18 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

ments of leather from ancient Irish graves, or in cloth 
from Lacustrine villages. She glitters with the quaint 
!rv of the first Italian race, whose ghosts, if they 
wail over the u find," "speak in a language man 
knows no more." She charms us with etchings or 

hings of mammoths on mammoth-bone, and in- 

nlore mysterious caves, to picnic among 
ilithic monuments, and speculate on pictured 
Scottish stones. In short, she engages man to inves- 
tigate his ancestry, a pursuit which presents charms 
even to the illiterate, and asks us to find out facts 
concerning works of art which have interested every- 
body in every age. 

Ad interim, before the science of curiosities is seg- 
regated from that of ethnology, I may observe that 
one of the marvels in the latter is that, among all 
the subdivisions of the human race, there are only 
two which have been, apparently from their begin- 
ning, set apart, marked and cosmopolite, ever living 
iig others, and yet reserved unto themselves. 
These are the Jew and the gypsy. From time 
wliorcof history hath naught to the contrary, the 
. as liT- himself holds in simple faith, the first 
man. lied Earth, Adam, was a Jew, and the old 
i in be a peculiar people has been curiously con- 
firmed by th' >li nary genius and influence of 
. and by their boundless wanderings. Go 
when- we may, we find the Jew has any other 

For whciwer Jew lias e;one, there, too, 

nil the lie nmre ancient, 
but . authentic, origin of the Romany is lost in 

.11 record, and, strictly speaking, his is a 
prehistoric caste. Among the hundred and fifty wan 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 19 

dering tribes of India and Persia, some of them Tu- 
ranian, some Aryan, and others mixed, it is of course 
difficult to identify the exact origin of the European 
gypsy. One thing we know : that from the tenth to 
the twelfth century, and probably much later on, 
India threw out from her northern half a vast mul- 
titude of very troublesome indwellers. What with 
Buddhist, Brahman, and Mohammedan wars, in- 
vaders outlawing invaded, the number of oiii-caste* 
became alarmingly great. To these the Jats, who, 
according to Captain Burton, constituted the main 
stock of our gypsies, contributed perhaps half their 
entire nation. Excommunication among the Indian 
professors of transcendental benevolence meant social 
death and inconceivable cruelty. Now there are 
many historical indications that these outcasts, before 
leaving India, became gypsies, which was the most 
natural thing in a country where such classes had 
already existed in very great numbers from early 
times. And from one of the lowest castes, which 
still exists in India, and is known as the Dom, 1 the 
emigrants to the West probably derived their name 
and several characteristics. The Dom burns the 
dead, handles corpses, skins beasts, and performs 
other functions, all of which were appropriated by, 
and became peculiar to, gypsies in several countries 
in Europe, notably in Denmark and Holland, for 
several centuries after their arrival there. The Dom 

1 From the observations of Frederic Drew ( The Northern Barrier 
of India, London, 1877) there can be little doubt that the Dom, or 
Dum, belong to the pre-Aryan race or races of India. " They are 
described in the Shastras as Sopukh, or Dog-Eaters" (Types of In 
dia). I have somewhere met with the statement that the Dom was 
pre-Aryan, but allowed to rank as Hindoo on account of services ren- 
dered to the early conquerors. 



20 THE RUSSIA IKS. 

of tlu> present day also sells baskets, and wanders 
\vitli a tent; he is altogether gypsy. It is remark- 
able that he, living in a hot climate, drinks ardent 
spir: -ess, being by no means a ''temperate 

Hindoo," and that even in extreme old age his hair 
seldom turns white, which is a noted peculiarity 
among our own gypsies of pure blood. I know and 
often seen a gypsy woman, nearly a hundred 
a old, whose curling hair is black, or hardly per- 
:l)ly changed. It is extremely probable that the 
Dom, mentioned as a caste even in the Shastras, gave 
the name to the Rom. The Dom calls his wife a 
Doinni, and being a Dom is " Domnipana." In Eng- 
lish gypsy, the same words are expressed by Rom, 
/, and romn'tjx-u. D, be it observed, very often 
chai in its transfer from Hindoo to Romany. 

Tims '/'>/, "a wooden spoon," becomes in gypsy roi, 
mi known to every tinker in London. But, 
while this was probably the origin of the word Rom, 
then :il)sc(jnent reasons for its continuance. 

Among the (. 1 ophts, who were more abundant in 
:>i when (he first gypsies went there, the word 
for man is romi, and after leaving Greece and the 
nl, or Hum, it would be natural for the wander- 
alled Jimm'. But the Dom was in all prob- 
ability th" parent stock of the gypsy race, though 
the latter received vast accessions from many other 
I call attention to this, since it has always 
held, and sensibly enough, that the mere fact 
iking Hindi-Persian, or the oldest 
L, including many Sanskrit terms, does 
Indian or Aryan origin, any more than 
:en by American negroes proves a 
it. But if the Horn can be identified 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 21 

w\ tli the Dom and the circumstantial evidence, it 
must be admitted, is very strong but little remains 
to seek, since, according to the Shastras, the Doms 
are Hindoo. 

Among the tribes whose union formed the Euro- 
pean gypsy was, in all probability, that of the Nats, 
consisting of singing and dancing girls and male mu- 
sicians and acrobats. Of these, we are told that not 
less than ten thousand lute-players and minstrels, un- 
der the name of Luri, were once sent to Persia as a 
present to a king, whose land was then without mu- 
sic or song. This word Luri is still preserved. The 
saddle-makers and leather-workers of Persia are called 
Tsingani ; they are, in their way, low caste, and a 
kind of gypsy, and it is supposed that from them are 
possibly derived the names Zingan, Zigeuner, Zin- 
garo, etc., by which gypsies are known in so many 
lands. From Mr. Arnold's late work on " Persia," 
the reader may learn that the Eeli, who constitute 
the majority of the inhabitants of the southern por- 
tion of that country, are Aryan nomads, and appar- 
ently gypsies. There are also in India the Banjari, 
or wandering merchants, and many other tribes, all 
spoken of as gypsies by those who know them. 

As regards the great admixture of Persian with 
Hindi in good Romany, it is quite unmistakable, 
though I can recall no writer who has attached suffi- 
cient importance to a fact which identifies gypsies 
with what is almost preeminently the land of gyp- 
sies. I once had the pleasure of taking a Nile 

journey in company with Prince S , a Persian, 

and in most cases, when I asked my friend what this 
or that gypsy word meant, lie gave me its correct 
meaning, after a little thought, and then added, in 
his imperfect English, " What for you want to know 



2 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

Buch word ? that old word that no more used. 
Only common people old peasant-woman use 
that word gentleman no want to know him." But 
I did want to know " him " very much. I can re- 
member that one night, when our Ion prince had thus 
held forth, we had dancing girls, or Almeh, on board, 
and one was very young and pretty. I was told that 
she was gypsy, but she spoke no Romany. Yet her 
panther eyes and serpent smile and beaute du diable 
were not Egyptian, but of the Indian, kalo-ratt, the 
dark blood, which, once known, is known forever. 
I forgot her, however, for a long time, until I went 
to Moscow, when she was recalled by dancing and 
smiles, of which I will speak anon. 

I was sitting one day by the Thames, in a gypsy 
tent, when its master, Joshua Cooper, now dead, 
pointing to a swan, asked me for its name in gypsy. 
I replied, "Boropappin" 

" No, rya. Boro pappin is ' a big goose.' Sdkkti 
is the real gypsy word. It is very old, and very few 
Romany know it." 

A few days after, when my Persian friend was 
dining with me at the Langham Hotel, I asked him 
if he knew what Sakku meant. By way of reply, 
lie, not being able to recall the English word, waved 
his arms in wonderful pantomime, indicating some 
enormous winged creature ; and then, looking into 
t.h< distance, and pointing as if to some far-vanishing 
object, as boys do when they declaim Bryant's ad- 
" To a Water-Fowl," said, 

" Sakku one ver' big bird, like one swen but 

1I(^ like the man who carry too much 

irs 1 his head in Constantinople. That 

this gentleman's dialect signified up or upon, like top 
nd in Pidgin-English. 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 23 

bird all same that man. He sakkia all same -wheel 
that you see get water up-stairs in Egypt." 

This was explanatory, but far from satisfactory. 
The prince, however, was mindful of me, and the 
next day I received from the Persian embassy the 
word elegantly written in Persian, with the transla- 
tion, " a pelican" Then it was all clear enough, for 
the pelican bears water in the bag under its bill. 
When the gypsies came to Europe they named ani- 
mals after those which resembled them in Asia. A 
dog they called juckal, from a jackal, and a swan 
sdkku, or pelican, because it so greatly resembles it. 
The Hindoo bandarus, or monkey, they have changed 
to bombaros, but why Tom Cooper should declare that 
it is pugasah, or puJckus-asa, I do not know. 1 As 
little can I conjecture the meaning of the prefix mod, 
or mode, which I learned on the road near Weymouth 
from a very ancient tinker, a man so battered, tattered, 
seamed, riven, and wrinkled that he looked like a pet- 
rifaction. He had so bad a barrow, or wheel, that 
I wondered what he could do with it, and regarded 
him as the very poorest man I had ever seen in Eng- 
land, until his mate came up, an alter ego, so excel- 
lent in antiquity, wrinkles, knobbiness, and rags that 
he surpassed the vagabond pictures not only of Cal- 
lot, Dore", and Goya, but even the unknown Spanish 
maker of a picture which I met with not long since 
for sale, and which for infinite poverty defied any- 
thing I ever saw on canvas. These poor men, who 
seemed at first amazed that I should speak to them 
at all, when I spoke Romany at once called me 
" brother." When I asked the younger his name, 

1 Puccasa, Sanskrit. Low, inferior. Given by Pliny E. Chase in hia 
SansJcj-it Analogues as the root-word for several inferior animals. 



24 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

he sank his voice to a whisper, and, with a furtive 
air, said, 

"J\((wlo, Lovel, you know." 

" What do you call yourself in the way of busi- 
ness?" I asked. " Katsamengro^ I suppose." 

Now Katsamengro means scissors-master. 

" That is a very good word. But chiv6 is deeper." 

" Chiv6 means a knife-man ? " 

" Yes. But the deepest of all, master, is Mod- 
angarengro. For you see that the right word for 
coals is n't wongur, as Romanys generally say, but 
Anffdra" 

Now angdra, as Pott and Benfey indicate, is pure 
Sanskrit for coals, and angarengro is a worker in. 
coals, but what mod means I know not, and should 
be glad to be told. 

I think it will be found difficult to identify the 
European gypsy with any one stock of the wander- 
ing races of India. Among those who left that 
try were men of different castes and different 
. varying from the pure northern invader to 
tli- no^ro-liko southern Indian. In the Danubian 
principalities there are at the present day three 
kinds of gypsies: one very dark and barbarous, an- 
r light brown and more intelligent, and the third, 
or lit\ of yellow-pine complexion, as American boys 
char, ihr hue of quadroons. Kven in Eng- 

land Ihi-r ij^hl haired and curly-haired Rom- 

indicating not a difference resulting 
from whii.- admixture, but entirely different original 

Ii \\ill. I trn-t, ho admitted, even from these re- 
marks, that, Romanology, or that subdivision of eth- 
nology which treats of gypsies, is both practical and 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 25 

curious. It deals with the only race except the Jew, 
which has penetrated into every village which Euro- 
pean civilization has ever touched. He who speaks 
Romany need be a stranger in few lands, for on 
every road in Europe and America, in Western Asia, 
and even in Northern Africa, he will meet those with 
whom a very few words may at once establish a pe- 
culiar understanding. For, of all things believed in 
by this widely spread brotherhood, the chief is this, 
that he who knows the jib, or language, knows the 
ways, and that no one ever attained these without 
treading strange paths, and threading mysteries un- 
known to the Gorgios, or Philistines. And if he who 
speaks wears a good coat, and appears a gentleman, 
let him rest assured that he will receive the greeting 
which all poor relations in all lands extend to those 
of their kin who have risen in life. Some of them, 
it is true, manifest the winsome affection which is 
based on great expectations, a sentiment largely de- 
veloped among British gypsies ; but others are hon- 
estly proud that a gentleman is not ashamed of them. 
Of this latter class were the musical gypsies, whom 
I met in Russia during the winter of 1876 and 1877, 
and some of them again in Paris during the Expo- 
sition of 1878. 

ST. PETERSBURG. 

There are gypsies and gypsies in the world, for 
there are the wanderers on the roads and the secret 
dwellers in towns ; but even among the aficionados, 
or Romany ryes, by whom I mean those scholars 
who are fond of studying life and language from the 
people themselves, very few have dreamed that there 
exist communities of gentlemanly and lady-like gyp- 



^6 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

eies of art, like the Bohemians of Murger and Go-rge 
Sand, but differing from them in being real u Bohe- 
mians" by race. I confess that it had never occurred 
to me that there was anywhere in Europe, at the pres- 
ent day, least of all in the heart of great and wealthy 
cities, a class or caste devoted entirely to art, well-to- 
do or even rich, refined in manners, living in comfort- 
able homes, the women dressing elegantly ; and yet 
with all this obliged to live by law, as did the Jews 
once, in Ghettos or in a certain street, and regarded 
as outcasts and cagdts. I had heard there were gyp- 
sies in Russian cities, and expected to find them like 
the krengri of England or Germany, house-dwellers 
somewhat reformed from vagabondage, but still reck- 
less semi-outlaws, full of tricks and lies ; in a word, 
gypsies, as the world understands the term. And I 
certainly anticipated in Russia something queer, the 
gentleman who speaks Romany seldom fails lo achieve 
at least that, whenever he gets into an unbroken 
haunt, an unlimited forest, where the Romany rye 
is unknown, but nothing like what I really found. 
A recent writer on Russia 1 speaks with great con- 
tempt of these musical Romanys, their girls at- 
tired in dresses by Worth, as compared with the free 
ivild outlaws of the steppes, who, with dark, ineil'aldo 
glances, meaning nothing more than a wild-cat's, 
steal poultry, and who, wrapped in dirty sheep-skins, 
proudly call themselves Mi dvorane P<>1 '/>//, Lords 
of tlm Waste. The, gypsies of Moscow, who ap- 
peared to me the most interesting 1 have ever met, 
.is most remote .from tin- Surrey ideal, seemed 
to Mr. Johnstone to be a kind of second-rate Jlom- 

1 A Trip up thr Volga to the Fair of Nijni-Novgorod. Bj H. A 
Munro Bntler Johnstone. 1875. 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 2* 

Rnys or gypsies, gypsified for exhibition, like Mr. 
Barnum's negro minstrel, who, though black as a 
coal by nature, was requested to put on burnt cork 
and a wig, that the audience might realize that they 
were getting a thoroughly good imitation. Mr. John- 
stone's own words are that a gypsy maiden in a long 
queue, " which perhaps came from Worth," is " hor- 
rible," " corruptio optimi pessima est ; " and he fur- 
ther ..com pares such a damsel to a negro with a cocked 
hat and spurs. As the only negro thus arrayed who 
presents himself to my memory was one who lay 
dead on the battle-field in Tennessee, after one of the 
bravest resistances in history, and in which he and 
his men, not having moved, were extended in "stark, 
serried lines " (" ten cart-loads of dead niggers," 
said a man to me who helped to bury them), I 
may be excused for not seeing the wit of the com- 
parison. As for the gypsies of Moscow, I can only 
say that, after meeting them in public, and pene- 
trating to their homes, where I was received as one 
of themselves, even as a Romany, I found that this 
opinion of them was erroneous, and that they were 
altogether original in spite of being clean, deeply 
interesting although honest, and a quite attractive 
class in most respects, notwithstanding their ability 
to read and write. Against Mr. Johnstone's impres- 
sions, I may set the straightforward and simple result 
of the experiences of Mr. W. R. Ralston. " The 
gypsies of Moscow," he says, " are justly celebrated 
for their picturesqueness and for their wonderful ca- 
pacity for music. All who have heard their women 
sing are enthusiastic about the weird witchery of the 
performance." 
When I arrived in St. Petersburg, one of my first 



28 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

inquiries was for gypsies. To my astonishment, they 
were hard to find. They are not allowed to live in 
the city ; and I was told that the correct and proper 
way to see them would be to go at night to certain 
cafte, half an hour's sleigh-ride from the town, and 
listen to their concerts. What I wanted, however, 
was not a concert, but a conversation ; not gypsies 
on exhibition, but gypsies at home, and everybody 
seemed to be of the opinion that those of " Samar- 
cand " and " Dorot " were entirely got up for effect. 
In fact, I heard the opinion hazarded that, even if 
they spoke Romany, I might depend upon it they had 
acquired it simply to deceive. One gentleman, who 
had, however, been much with them in other days, 
assured me that they were of pure blood, and had 
an inherited language of their own. " But," lie added, 
" I am sure you will not understand it. You may 
be able to talk with those in England, but not with 
ours, because there is not a single word in their lan- 
guage which resembles anything in English, German, 
French, Latin, Greek, or Italian. I can only recall," 
he added, " one phrase. I don't know what it means, 
and I think it will puzzle you. It is me kamdva 
tut." 

If I experienced internal laughter at hearing this 
it was for a good reason, which I can illustrate by an 
anecdote : " I have often observed, when I lived in 
China," said Mr. Hoffman Atkinson, author of " A 
Vocabulary of the Yokohama Dialect," " that most 
young men, particularly the gay and handsome ones, 
g-.i crally asked me, about the third day after their 
arrival in the country, the meaning of the Pidgin- 
lish phrase, 4 You makee too muchee lov-lov-pid- 
gin.' Investigation always established the fact that 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 29 

the inquirer had heard it from ' a. pretty China girl.' 
Now lov-pidgin means love, and me kamdva tut is 
perfectly good gypsy anywhere for I love you ; ' and 
a very soft expression it is, recalling Jcama-deva, the 
Indian Cupid, whose bow is strung with bees, and 
whose name has two strings to it, since it means, both 
in gypsy and Sanskrit, Love-God, or the god of love. 
4 It 's kdma-duvel, you know, rya, if you put it as it 
ought to be,' said Old Windsor Froggie to me once ; 
4 but I think that K&ma,-devil would by rights come 
nearer to it, if Cupid is what you mean.' " 

I referred the gypsy difficulty to a Russian gen- 
tleman of high position, to whose kindness I had 
been greatly indebted while in St. Petersburg. He 
laughed. 

" Come with me to-morrow night to the cafes, and 
see the gypsies ; I know them well, and can promise 
that you shall talk with them as much as you like. 
Once, in Moscow, I got together all in the town 
perhaps a hundred and fifty to entertain the Amer- 
ican minister, Curtin. That was a very hard thing 
to do, there was so much professional jealousy 
among them, and so many quarrels. Would you have 
believed it ? " 

I thought of the feuds between sundry sturdy 
Romanys in England, and felt that I could suppose 
such a thing, without dangerously stretching my 
faith, and I began to believe in Russian gypsies. 

44 Well, then, I shall call for you to-morrow night 
with a troika; I will come early, at ten. They 
.lever begin to sing before company arrive at eleven, 
so that you will have half an hour to talk to them." 

It is on record that the day on which the general 
gave me this kind invitation was the coldest known 



30 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

in St. Petersburg for thirty years, the thermometer 
having stood, or rather having lain down and grov- 
eled that morning at 40 below zero, Fahr. At the 
appointed hour the troika, or three-horse sleigh, was 
before the H6tel d'Europe. It was, indeed, an arc- 
tic night, but, well wrapped in fur-lined shubas, with 
immense capes which fall to the elbow or rise far 
above the head, as required, and wearing fur caps 
and fur-lined gloves, we felt no cold. The beard of 
our istvostshik, or driver, was a great mass of ice, giv- 
ing him the appearance of an exceedingly hoary youth, 
and his small horses, being very shaggy and thor- 
oughly frosted, looked in the darkness like immense 
polar bears. If the general and myself could only 
have been considered as gifts of the slightest value 
to anybody, I should have regarded our turn-out, 
with the driver in his sheep-skin coat, as coming 
within a miracle of resemblance to that of Santa 
Glaus, the American Father Christinas. 

On, at a tremendous pace, over the snow, which 
PMVP. out under our runners that crunching, iron 
sound only heard when the thermometer touches zero. 
There is a peculiar fascination about the troika, and 
the sweetest, saddest melody and most plaintive song 
of Russia belong to it. 

THE TROIKA. 
Vot y^dit troika udalaiya. 

Hear ye the troika-bell a-ringin;*. 

And see the peasant driver there? 
Hear ye the mournful song he ' sinking, 

Like distant tolling through the air ? 

'* O eyes, blue eyes, to me so lonely, 
O eyes alas ! ye give me pain ; 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 31 

O eyes, that once looked at me only, 
I ne'er shall see your like again. 

"Farewell, my darling, now in heaven, 

And still the heaven of my soul ; 
Farewell, thou father town, O Moscow, 
Where I have left my life, my all ! " 

And ever at the rein still straining, 
One backward glance the driver gave ; 

Sees but once more a green low hillock, 
Sees but once more his loved one's grave. 

"Stoi!" Halt! We stopped at a stylish-look- 
ing building, entered a hall, left our shubas, and I 
heard the general ask, " Are the gypsies here ? " 
An affirmative being given, we entered a large room, 
and there, sure enough, stood six or eight girls and 
two men, all very well dressed, and all unmistakably 
Romany, though smaller and of much slighter or more 
delicate frame than the powerful gypsy " travelers " 
of England. In an instant every pair of great, wild 
eyes was fixed on me. The general was in every 
way a more striking figure, but I was manifestly a 
fresh stranger, who knew nothing of the country, 
and certainly nothing of gypsies or gypsydom. Such 
a verdant visitor is always most interesting. It was 
not by any means my first reception of the kind, 
and, as I reviewed at a glance the whole party, I 
said within myself : 

" Wait an instant, you black snakes, and I will 
give you something to make you stare." 

This promise I kept, when a young man, who 
looked like a handsome light Hindoo, stepped up and 
addressed me in Russian. I looked long and steadily 
at him before I spoke, and then said : 

" LatcJio divvus prala ! " (Good day, brother.) 

" What is that?" he exclaimed, startled. 



32 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

" Tujines latcho adosta" (You know very well.) 
And then, with the expression in his face of a man 
who has been familiarly addressed by a brazen statue, 
or asked by a new-born babe, " What o'clock is it ?" 
but with great joy, he cried : 

4 RomanicJial /" 

In an instant they were all around me, marveling 
greatly, and earnestly expressing their marvel, at what 
new species of gypsy I might be ; being in this quite 
unlike those of England, who, even when they are 
astonished " out of their senses " at being addressed 
in Romany by a gentleman, make the most red-Indian 
efforts to conceal their amazement. But I speedily 
found that these Russian gypsies were as unaffected 
and child-like as they were gentle in manner, and that 
they compared with our own prize-fighting, sturdy- 
begging, always-suspecting Romany roughs and ruff 
anas as a delicate greyhound might compare with a 
very shrewd old bull-dog, trained by an unusually 
14 fly " tramp. 

That the girls were first to the fore in questioning 
me will be doubted by no one. But we had great 
trouble in effecting a mutual understanding. Their 
Romany was full of Russian ; their pronunciation 
puzzled me ; they " bit off their words," and used 
many in a strange or false sense. Yet, notwithstand- 
ing this, I contrived to converse pretty readily with 
the men, very readily with the captain, a man as 
dark as Ben Lee, to those who know Benjamin, or 
RS mahogany, to those who know him not. But with 
the women it was very difficult to converse. There 
is a theory current that women have a specialty of 
tact and readiness in understanding a foreigner, or in 
making themselves understood; it may be so with 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 33 

cultivated ladies, but it is my experience that, among 
the uneducated, men have a monopoly of such quick 
intelligence. In order fully to convince them that 
we really had a tongue in .common, I repeated per- 
haps a hundred nouns, giving, for instance, the names 
of various parts of the body, of articles of apparel 
and objects in the room, and I believe that we did 
not find a single word which, when pronounced dis- 
tinctly by itself, was not intelligible to us all. I had 
left in London a Russo-Romany vocabulary, once 
published in " The Asiatic Magazine," and I had 
met with Bohtlinghk's article on the dialect, as well 
as specimens of it in the works of Pott and Miklo- 
sich, but had unfortunately learned nothing of it from 
them. I soon found, however, that I knew a great 
many more gypsy words than did my new friends, 
and that our English Romany far excels the Russian 
in copia verborum. 

" But I must sit down." I observed on this and 
other occasions that Russian gypsies are very naif. 
And as it is in human nature to prefer sitting by a 
pretty girl, these Slavonian Romanys so arrange it 
according to the principles of natural selection 
or natural politeness that, when a stranger is in 
their gates, the two prettiest girls in their possession 
sit at his right and left, the two less attractive next 
again, et seriatim. So at once a damsel of comely 
mien, arrayed in black silk attire, of faultless elegance, 
cried to me, pointing to a chair by her side, " Bersh 
tu alay, rya!" (Sit down, sir), a phrase which 
would be perfectly intelligible to any Romany in 
England. I admit that there was another damsel, 
<vho is generally regarded by most people as the true 
gypsy belle of the party, who did not sit by me. 



84 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

But, as the one who had "voted herself into the 
chair,'* by my side, was more to my liking, being the 
most intelligent and most gypsy, I had good cause to 
rejoice. 

I was astonished at the sensible curiosity as to 
gypsy life in other lands which was displayed, and at 
the questions asked. I really doubt if I ever met 
with an English gypsy who cared a farthing to know 
anything about his race as it exists in foreign coun- 
tries, or whence it came. Once, and once only, I 
thought I had interested White George, at East 
Moulsey, in an account of Egypt, and the small num- 
ber of Romanys there ; but his only question was to 
the effect that, if there were so few gypsies in Egypt, 
would n't it be a good place for him to go to sell 
baskets ? These of Russia, however, asked all kinds 
of questions about the manners and customs of their 
congeners, and were pleased when they recognized 
familiar traits. And every gypsyism, whether of 
word or way, was greeted with delighted laughter. 
In one thing I noted a radical difference between 
these gypsies and those of the rest of Europe and of 
America. There was none of that continually as- 
sumed mystery and Romany freemasonry, of superior 
occult knowledge and "deep" information, which is 
often carried to the depths of absurdity and to the 
height of humbug. I say this advisedly, since, how- 
ever much it may give charm to a novel or play, it is 
a serious impediment to a philologist. Let me give 
an illustration. 

Owe. during the evening, those Russian gypsies 
\vere anxious to know if there were any books in 
their language. Now I have no doubt that Dr. Bath 
Smart, or Prof. E. H. Palmer, or any other of the 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 85 

initiated, will perfectly understand when I say that 
by mere force of habit I shivered and evaded the 
question. When a gentleman who manifests a knowl- 
edge of Romany among gypsies in England is sus- 
pected of " dixonary " studies, it amounts to lasciate 
ogni speranza, give up all hope of learning any 
more. 

" I 'm glad to see you here, rya, in my tent," said 
the before-mentioned Ben Lee to me one night, in 
camp near Weybridge, " because I 've heard, and I 
know, you did n't pick up your Romany out of 
books." 

The silly dread, the hatred, the childish antipathy, 
real or affected, but always ridiculous, which is felt 
in England, not only among gypsies, but even by 
many gentlemen scholars, to having the Romany 
language published is indescribable. Vambe*ry was 
not more averse to show a lead pencil among Tartars 
than I am to take notes of words among strange 
English gypsies. I might have spared myself any 
annoyance from such a source among the Russian 
Romanys. They had not heard of Mr. George Bor- 
row ; nor were there ugly stories current among them 
to the effect that Dr. Smart and Prof. E. H. Palmer 
had published works, the direct result of which would 
be to facilitate their little paths to the jail, the gal- 
lows, and the grave. 

" Would we hear some singing ? " We were ready, 
and for the first time in my life I listened to the long- 
anticipated, far-famed magical melody of Russian 
gypsies. And what was it like ? May I preface my 
reply to the reader wth the remark that there are, 
roughly speaking, two kinds of music in the world, 
the wild and the tame, and the rarest of human 



36 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

beings is he who can appreciate both. Only one 
Buch man ever wrote a book, and his nomen et omen 
is Engel, like that of the little English slaves who were 
non Angli, sed angeli. I have in my time been deeply 
moved by the choruses of Nubian boatmen ; I have 
listened with great pleasure to Chinese and Japan- 
ese music, Ole Bull once told me he had done the 
same ; I have delighted by the hour in Arab songs ; 
and I have felt the charm of our red-Indian music. 
If this seems absurd to those who characterize all 
such sound and song as "caterwauling,' let me re- 
mind the reader that in all Europe there is not one 
man fonder of music than an average Arab, a Chinese, 
or a -red Indian ; for any of these people, as I have 
seen and know, will sit twelve or fifteen hours, with- 
out the least weariness, listening to what cultivated 
Europeans all consider as a mere charivari. When 
London gladly endures fifteen-hour concerts, com- 
posed of rnorceaux by Wagner, Chopin, and Liszt, I 
will believe that art can charm as much as nature. 

The medium point of intelligence in this puzzle 
may be found in the extraordinary fascination which 
many find in the monotonous turn-turn of the banjo, 
and which reappears, somewhat refined, or at least 
somewhat Frenchified, in the Bamboula and other 
Creole airs. Thence, in an ascending series, but con- 
nected with it, we have old Spanish melodies, then 
the Arabic, and here we finally cross the threshold 
into mystery, midnight, and " caterwauling." I do not 
know that I can explain the fact why the more " bar- 
barous " music is, the more it is beloved of man ; but 
I think that the principle of the refrain, or repeti- 
tion in music, which us yet governs nil decorative art, 
End which Mr. Whistler and others are endeavoring 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 37 

desperately to destroy, acts in music as a sort of ani- 
mal magnetism or abstraction, ending in an extase. 
As for the fascination which such wild melodies exert, 
it is beyond description. The most enraptured au- 
dience I ever saw in my life was at a Coptic wedding 
in Cairo, where one hundred and fifty guests listened, 
from seven P. M. till three A. M., and Heaven knows 
how much later, to what a European would call ab- 
solute jangling, yelping, and howling. 

The real medium, however, between what I have, 
for want of better words, called wild and tame music 
exists only in that of the Russian gypsies. These 
artists, with wonderful tact and untaught skill, have 
succeeded, in all their songs, in combining the myste- 
rious and maddening charm of the true, wild Eastern 
music with that of regular and simple melody, intel- 
ligible to every Western ear. I have never listened to 
the singing or playing of any distinguished artist 
and certainly never of any far-famed amateur with- 
out realizing that neither words nor melody was of 
the least importance, but that the man's manner of 
performance or display was everything. Now, in 
enjoying gypsy singing, one feels at once as if the 
vocalists had entirely forgotten self, and were carried 
away by the bewildering beauty of the air and the 
charm of the words. There is no self-consciousness, 
no vanity, all is real. The listener feels as if he 
were a performer ; the performer is an enraptured 
listener. There is no soulless " art for the sake of 
vrt," but art for direct pleasure. 

" We intend to sing only Romany for you, rya" 
said the young lady to my left, " and you will hear 
our real gypsy airs. The Cf-aji [Russians] often ask 
for songs in our language, and don't get them. But 



38 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

you are a Romanichal, and when you go home, far 
over the baro kdlo pdni [the broad black water, that 
is, the ocean], you shall tell the Romany how we can 
sing. Listen ! " 

And I listened to the strangest, wildest, and sweet- 
est singing 1 ever had heard, the singing of Lur- 
leis, of sirens, of witches. First, one damsel, with an 
exquisitely clear, firm voice, began to sing a verse of 
a love-ballad, and as it approached the end the cho- 
rus stole in, softly and unperceived, but with exquisite 
skill, until, in a few seconds, the summer breeze, mur- 
muring melody over a rippling lake, seemed changed 
to a midnight tempest, roaring over a stormy sea, in 
which the basso of the kdlo shureskro (the black cap- 
tain) pealed like thunder. Just as it died away a 
second girl took up the melody, very sweetly, but 
with a little more excitement, it was like a gleam 
of moonlight on the still agitated waters, a strange 
contralto witch-gloam ; and then again the chorus and 
the storm ; and then another solo yet sweeter, sadder, 
and stranger, the movement continually increasing, 
until all was fast, and wild, and mad, a locomotive 
quickstep, and then a, sudden silence sunlight 
the storm had blown away. 

Nothing on earth is so like magic and elfin-work 
lien women burst forth into improvised melody. 
The bird only "sings as his bill grew," or what he 
learned from the elders; yet when you hear birds 
singing in woodland groen, throwing out to God or 
th- fairies irrepressible Hoods of what seems like au- 
dible sunshine, so well does it match with summer's 
light, yon think it is wonderful. It is mostly when 
you forget the long training of the prima donna, in 
her ease and apparent naturalness, that her song is 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 39 

sweetest. But there is a charm, which was well 
known of old, though we know it not to-day, which 
was practiced by the bards and believed in by their 
historians. It was the feeling that the song was born 
of the moment ; that it came with the air, gushing 
and fresh from the soul. In reading the strange 
stories of the professional bards and scalds and min- 
strels of the early Middle Age, one is constantly be- 
wildered at the feats of off-hand composition which 
were exacted of the poets among Celts or Norse- 
men. And it is evident enough that in some myste- 
rious way these singers knew how to put strange 
pressure on the Muse, and squeeze strains out of her 
in a manner which would have been impossible at 
present. 

Yet it lingers here and there on earth among wild, 
strange people, this art of making melody at will. 
I first heard it among Nubian boatmen on the Nile. 
It was as manifest that it was composed during the 
making as that the singers were unconscious of their 
power. One sung at first what may have been a well- 
known verse. While singing, another voice stole in, 
and yet another, softly as shadows steal into twilight ; 
and ere I knew it all were in a great chorus, which 
fell away as mysteriously, to become duos, trios, 
changing in melody in strange, sweet, fitful wise, as 
the faces seen in the golden cloud in the visioned 
aureole of God blend, separate, burn, and fade away 
ever into fresher glory and tints incarnadined. 

Miss C. F. Gordon Gumming, after informing us 
that " it is utterly impossible to give you the faintest 
shadow of an idea of the fascination of Tahitian 
himnes" proceeds, as men in general and women 
in particular invariably do, to give what the writer 



40 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

really believes is a very good description indeed. 
'T is ever thus, and thus 't will ever be, and the de- 
scription of these songs is so good that any person 
gifted with imagination or poetry cannot fail to smile 
at the preceding disavowal of her ability to give an 
idea. 

These JiimSnes are not and here such of my too 
expectant young lady-readers as are careless in spell- 
ing will be sadly disappointed in any way con- 
nected with weddings. They are simply the natural 
music of Tahiti, or strange and beautiful part-songs. 
" Nothing you have ever heard in any other country," 
says our writer, u bears the slightest resemblance tc 
these "wild, exquisite glees, faultless in time and har- 
mony, though apparently each singer introduces any 
variations which may occur to him or to her. Very 
often there is no leader, and apparently all sing ac- 
cording to their own sweet will. One voice com- 
mences ; it may be that of an old native, with genu- 
ine native words (the meaning of which AVC had bet- 
tT not inquire), or it may be with a Scriptural story, 
versified and sung to an air originally from Europe, 
but so completely Tahitiani/.ed that no mortal could 
recognize it, which is all in its favor, for the wild 
melodies of this isle are beyond measure fascinating. 

" After one clause of solo, another strikes in 
here, there, everywhere in harmonious chorus. 
It seems as if one section devoted themselves to pour- 
ing forth a rippling torrent of ' Ra, ra, ra ra ra!' 
while others burst into a flood of 4 La, la la la 
la I ' Some confine their care to sound a deep, boom- 
ing bass in a long-continued drone, somewhat sug- 
\e (to my appreciative Highland ear) of our 
own bagpipes. Here and there high falsetto notes 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 41 

strike in, varied from verse to verse, and then the 
choruses of La and Ra come bubbling in liquid mel- 
ody, while the voices of the principal singers now 
join in unison, now diverge as widely as it is possible 
for them to do, but all combine to produce the quaint- 
est, most melodious, rippling glee that ever was 
heard." 

This is the himene ; such the singing which I 
heard in Egypt in a more regular form ; but it was 
exactly as the writer so admirably sets it forth (and 
your description, my lady traveler, is, despite your 
disavowal, quite perfect and a himSne of itself) that I 
heard the gypsy girls of St. Petersburg and of Mos- 
cow sing. For, after a time, becoming jolly as flies, 
first one voice began with "La, la, la la la! " to 
an unnamed, unnamable, charming melody, into which 
went and came other voices, some bringing one verse 
or no verse, in unison or alone, the least expected do- 
ing what was most awaited, which was to surprise us 
and call forth gay peals of happy laughter, while the 
" La, la, la la la ! " was kept up continuously, 
like an accompaniment. And still the voices, basso, 
soprano, tenor, baritone, contralto, rose and fell, the 
moment's inspiration telling how, till at last all 
blended in a locomotive-paced La, and in a final roar 
of laughter it ended. 

I could not realize at the time how much this ex- 
quisite part-singing was extemporized. The sound 
of it rung in my head I assure you. reader, it rings 
there yet when I think of it like a magic bell. An- 
other day, however, when I begged for a repetition 
of it, the girls could recall nothing of it. They could 
start it again on any air to the unending strain of 
"La la la;" but the "La la la" of the 



42 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

previous evening was avec les neigcs tfantan, with 
the smoke of yesterday's fire, with the perfume and 
bird-songs. " La, la, la la la ! " 

In Arab singing, such effects are applied simply to 
set forth erotomania ; in negro minstrelsy, they are 
degraded to the lowest humor ; in higher European 
music, when employed, they simply illustrate the 
skill of composer and musician. The spirit of gypsy 
singing recalled by its method and sweetness that of 
the Nubian boatmen, but in its general effect I could 
think only of those strange fits of excitement which 
thrill the red Indian and make him burst into song. 
The Abbe Domenech l has observed that the Ameri- 
can savage pays attention to every sound that strikes 
upon his car when the leaves, softly shaken by the 
cvenino- lnvc/e, seem to sigh through the air, or when 
the tempest, bursting forth with fury, shakes the gi- 
gantic trees that crack like reeds. " The chirping of 
the birds, the cry of the wild beasts, in a word, all 
those sweet, grave, or imposing voices that animate 
the wilderness, are so many musical lessons, which he 
easily remembers." In illustration of this, the mis- 
sionary describes the singing of a Chippewa chief, 
and its wild inspiration, in a manner which vividly 
illustrates all music of the class of which I write. 

" It was," he says, " during one of those long 
winter nights, so monotonous and so wearisome in 
the woods. We were in a wigwam, which afforded 
us but miserable shelter from the inclemency of the 
season. The storm raged without ; the tempest roared 
in the open country ; the wind blew with violence, 
and whistled through the fissures of the cabin ; the 
rain fell in torrents, and prevented us from continu- 
1 Seven Years in the Deserts of America. 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 43 

ing our route. Our host was an Indian, with spark- 
ling and intelligent eyes, clad with a certain elegance, 
and wrapped majestically in a large fur cloak. Seated 
close to the fire, which cast a reddish gleam through 
the interior of his wigwam, he felt himself all at once 
seized with an irresistible desire to imitate the con- 
vulsions of nature, and to sing his impressions. So, 
taking hold of a drum which hung near his bed, he 
beat a slight rolling, resembling* the distant sounds 
of an approaching storm ; then, raising his voice to a 
shrill treble, which he knew how to soften when he 
pleased, he imitated the whistling of the air, the 
creaking of the branches dashing against one another, 
and the particular noise produced by dead leaves 
when accumulated in compact masses on the ground. 
By degrees the rollings of the drum became more 
frequent and louder, the chants more sonorous and 
shrill, and at last our Indian shrieked, howled, and 
roared in a most frightful manner ; he struggled and 
struck his instrument with extraordinary rapidity. It 
was a real tempest, to which nothing was wanting, 
not even the distant howling of the dogs, nor the bel- 
lowing of the affrighted buffaloes." 

I have observed the same musical inspiration of a 
storm upon Arabs, who, during their singing, also ac- 
companied themselves on a drum. I once spent two 
weeks in a Mediterranean steamboat, on board of 
which were more than two hundred pilgrims, for the 
greater part wild Bedouins, going to Mecca. They 
had a minstrel who sang and played on the darabuka, 
or earthenware drum, and he was aided by another 
with a simple nai, or reed-whistle ; the same orchestra, 
in fact, which is in universal use among all red In- 
dians. To these performers the pilgrims listened 



44 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

with indescribable pleasure; and I soon found that 
they regarded me favorably because I did the same, 
being, of course, the only Frank on board who paid 
any attention to the singing or any money for it. 
But it was at night and during storms that the spirit 
of music always seemed to be strongest on the Arabs, 
and then, amid roaring of wild waters and thunder- 
ing, and in dense darkness, the rolling of the drum 
and the strange, bewildering ballads never ceased. 
It was the very counterpart, in all respects, of the 
Chippewa storm song. 

After the first gypsy lyric there came another, to 
which the captain especially directed my attention 
as being what Sam Petulengro calls " reg'lar Rom- 
any." It was I rakli adro o lolo gad (The girl in 
the red chemise), as well as I can recall his words, 
a very sweet song, with a simple but spirited cho- 
rus ; and as the sympathetic electricity of excitement 
d the performers we were all in a minute " go- 
ing down the rapids in a spring freshet." 

" Bagan tu rya, lagan ! " (Sing, sir, sing) cried 
my handsome neighbor, with her black gypsy eyes 
sparkling fire. " Jines hi lagan eto eto latcho 
Romanes" (You can sing that, it's real Rom- 
any.) It was evident that she and all were sing- 
ing with thorough enjoyment, and with a full and 
realizing consciousness of gypsyism, being greatly 
stimulated by my presence and sympathy. I felt 
that the gypsies were taking unusual pains to please 
tli<> Romany rye from the dur 9 tcm, or far country, 
;ni (I they I i;id attained the acme of success by being 
thoroughly delighted with themselves, which is all 
that can be hoped for in art, where the aim is pleas- 
ure and not criticism. 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 45 

There was a pause in the performance, but none 
in the chattering of the young ladies, and during this 
a curious little incident occurred. Wishing to know 
if my pretty friend could understand an English 
gypsy lyric, I sang in an undertone a ballad, taken 
from George Borrow's "Lavengro," and which be- 
gins with these words : 

" Pende Romani chai ke laki dye ; 
' Miri diri dye, mi shorn kameli.' " 

I never knew whether this was really an old gypsy 
poem or one written by Mr. Borrow. Once, when I 
repeated it to old Henry James, as he sat making 
baskets, I was silenced by being told, "That ain't 
no real gypsy gilli. That 's one of the kind made 
up by gentlemen and ladies." However, as soon as 
I repeated it, the Russian gypsy girl cried eagerly, 
" I know that song ! " and actually sang me a ballad 
which was essentially the same, in which a damsel 
describes her fall, owing to a Gajo (Gorgio, a Gentile, 
not gypsy) lover, and her final expulsion from the 
tent. It was adapted to a very pretty melody, and 
as soon as she had sung it, sotto voce, my pretty friend 
exclaimed to another girl, " Only think, the rye from 
America knows that song ! " Now, as many centu- 
ries must have passed since the English and Russian 
gypsies parted from the parent stock, the preserva- 
tion of this song is very remarkable, and its antiq- 
uity must be very great. I did not take it down, but 
any resident in St. Petersburg can, if so inclined, 
do so among the gypsies at Dorat, and verify my 
statement. 

Then there was a pretty dance, of a modified Ori- 
ental character, by one of the damsels. For this, as 
for the singing, the only musical instrument used was 



46 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

a guitar, which had seven strings, tuned in Spanish 
fashion, and was rather weak in tone. I wished it 
had been a powerful Panormo, which would have ex- 
actly suited the timbre of these voices. The gypsies 
were honestly interested in all I could tell them 
about their kind in other lands ; while the girls were 
professionally desirous to hear more Anglo-Romany 
songs, and were particularly pleased with one begin- 
ning with the words : 

" ' Me shorn akonyo/ gildas yoi, 

Men liuti ruzhior, 
Te sar i chiriclia adoi 
Pen mengy gilior.'" 

Though we u got on " after a manner in our Rom- 
any talk, I was often obliged to have recourse to my 
friend the general to translate long sentences into 
Russian, especially \vhen some sand-bar of a verb 
or some log of a noun impeded the current of our 
conversation. Finally, a formal request was made 
by the captain that I would, as one deep beyond all 
their experience in Romany matters, kindly tell them 
what kind of people they really were, and whence 
they came. With this demand I cheerfully complied, 
every word being listened to with breathless interest. 
So I told them what I knew or had conjectured rel- 
ative to their Indian origin : how their fathers had 
wandered forth through Persia ; how their travels 
could be traced by the Persian, Greek, or Roumanian 
words in the language ; how in 1417 a band of tin-in 
appeared in Europe, led by a few men of great dip- 
lomatic skill, who, by crafty dealing, obtained from 
the Pope, tin- Emperor of Germany, and all the, kings 
of Europe, except that of England, permission to 
wander for fifty years as pilgrims, declaring that they 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 47 

had been Christians, but, having become renegades, 
the King of Hungary had imposed a penance on them 
of half a century's exile. Then I informed them that 
precisely the same story had been told by them to the. 
rulers in Syria and Egypt, only that in the Moham- 
medan countries they pretended to be good followers 
of Islam. I said there was reason to believe that 
some of their people had been in Poland and the 
other Slavonic countries ever since the eleventh cent- 
ury, but that those of England must have gone di- 
rectly from Eastern Europe to Great Britain ; for, 
although they had many Slavic words, such as krallis 
(king) and shuba, there were no French terms, and 
very few traces of German or Italian, in the English 
dialect. I observed that the men all understood the 
geographical allusions which I made, knowing ap- 
parently where India, Persia, and Egypt were situ- 
ated a remarkable contrast to our own English 
" travelers," one of whom once informed me that he 
would like to go " on the road" in America, "be- 
cause you know, sir, as America lays along into 
France, we could get our French baskets cheaper 
there." 

I found, on inquiry, that the Russian gypsies pro- 
fess Christianity ; but, as the religion of the Greek 
church, as I saw it, appears to be practically some- 
thing very little better than fetich-worship, I cannot 
exalt them as models of evangelical piety. They 
are, however, according to a popular proverb, not far 
from godliness in being very clean in their persons ; 
and not only did they appear so to me, but I was as- 
sured by several Russians that, as regarded these 
singing gypsies, it was invariably the case. As for 
morality in gypsy girls, their principles are very pe- 



48 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

culiar. Not a whisper of scandal attaches to these 
Russian Romany women as regards transient amours. 
But if a wealthy Russian gentleman falls in love 
with one, and will have and hold her permanently, 
or for a durable connection, he may take her to his 
home if she likes him, but must pay monthly a sum 
into the gypsy treasury ; for these people apparently 
form an artel, or society-union, like all other classes 
of Russians. It may be suggested, as an explanation 
of this apparent incongruity, that gypsies all the 
world over regard steady cohabitation, or agreement, 
as marriage, binding themselves, as it were, by Grand- 
harbavivaha, as the saint married Vasantasena, which 
is an old Sanskrit way of wedding. And let me re- 
mark that if one tenth of what I heard in Russia 
about " morals " in the highest or lowest or any other 
class be true, the gypsies of that country are shining 
lights and brilliant exemplars of morality to all by 
whom they are surrounded. Let me also add that 
never on any occasion did I hear or see among them 
anything in the slightest degree improper or unre- 
fined. I knew very well that I could, if I chose, talk 
to such na'ive people about subjects which would 
shock an English lady, and, as the reader may re- 
member, I did quote Mr. Borrow's song, which he has 
not translated. But a European girl who would have 
endured allusions to tabooed subjects would have at 
all times shown vulgarity or coarseness, while these 
Russian Romany girls were invariably lady-like. It 
is true that the St. Petersburg party had a dissipated 
air; three or four of them looked like second-class 
French or Italian theatrical artistes, and I should not 
be astonished to learn that very late hours and cham- 
pagne were familiar to them as cigarettes, or that 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 49 

their flirtations among their own people were neither 
faint, nor few, nor far between. But their conduct 
in my presence was irreproachable. Those of Mos- 
cow, in fact, had not even the apparent defects of 
their St. Petersburg sisters and brothers, and when 
among them it always seemed to me as if I were sim- 
ply with nice gentle Creoles or Cubans, the gypsy 
manner being tamed down to the Spanish level, their 
great black eyes and their guitars increasing the re- 
semblance. 

The indescribably wild and thrilling character of 
gypsy music is thoroughly appreciated by the Rus- 
sians, who pay very high prices for Romany per- 
formances. From five to eight or ten pounds ster- 
ling is usually given to a dozen gypsies for singing 
an hour or two to a special party, and this is some- 
times repeated twice or thrice of an evening. "A 
Russian gentleman, when he is in funds," said the 
clerk of the Slavansky Bazaar in Moscow to me, 
" will make nothing of giving the Zigani a hundred- 
ruble note," the ruble rating at half a crown. The 
result is that good singers among these lucky Roma- 
nys are well to do, and lead soft lives, for Russia. 

MOSCOW. 

I had no friends in Moscow to direct me where to 
find gypsies en famille, and the inquiries which I 
made of chance acquaintances simply convinced me 
that the world at large was as ignorant of their ways 
*s it was prejudiced against them. At last the good- 
natured old porter of our hotel told me, in his rough 
Baltic German, how to meet these mysterious min- 
strels to advantage. " You must take a sleigh," he 
eaid, " and go out to Petrovka. That is a place in 
4 



50 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

the country, where there are grand cafes at consider- 
able distances one from the other. Pay the driver 
three rubles for four hours. Enter a cafe, call for 
something to drink, listen to the gypsies singing, and 
when they pass round a plate put some money in it. 
That 's all/' This was explicit, and at ten o'clock 
in the evening I hired a sleigh and went. 

If the cold which I had experienced in the gen- 
eral's troika in St. Petersburg might be compared 
to a moderate rheumatism, that which I encountered 
in the sleigh outside the walls of Moscow, on Christ- 
mas Eve, 187G, was like a fierce gout. The ride was 
in all conscience Russian enough to have its ending 
among gypsies, Tartars, or Cossacks. To go at a 
headlong pace over the creaking snow behind an ist- 
vostshik, named Vassili, the round, cold moon over- 
head, church-spires tipped with great inverted golden 
turnips in the distance, and this on a night when the 
frost seemed almost to scream in its intensity, is as 
much of a sensation in the suburbs of Moscow as it 
could be out on the. steppes. A few wolves, more 
or less, make no dilTerenoe, and even they come 
sometimes within three hours' walk of the Kremlin. 
Et ego inti-r IHJ><>X, I too have been among wolves 
in my time l.y ni^ht, in Kansas, and thought nothing 
of such rides compared to the one I had when I went 
ijypsying from Moscow. 

In half an hour Vassili brought me to a house, 
which I entered. A "proud porter," a vast creature, 
in uniform suggestive of embassies and kings' palaces, 
relieved me. of my vJiufxi. and I found my way into a 
e and ]iirh hall, brilliantly lighted as if for 
a thousand quests, while iiie only occupants were four 
couples, " spooning " sans gene, one in each corner 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 51 

and a small party of men and girls drinking in the 
middle. I called a waiter ; he spoke nothing but 
Russian, and Russian is of all languages the most 
useless to him who only talks it " a little." A little 
Arabic, or even a little Chippewa, I have found of 
great service, but a fair vocabulary and weeks . of 
study of the grammar are of no avail in a country 
where even men of gentlemanly appearance turn 
away with childish ennui the instant they detect the 
foreigner, resolving apparently that they cannot and 
will not understand him. In matters like this the 
ordinary Russian is more impatient and less intelli- 
gent than any Oriental or even red Indian. The 
result of my interview with the waiter was that we 
were soon involved in the completest misunderstand- 
ing on the subject of gypsies. The question was 
settled by reference to a fat and fair damsel, one of 
the "spoons" already referred to, who spoke Ger- 
man. She explained to me that as it was Christ- 
mas Eve no gypsies would be there, or at any other 
cafe. This was disappointing. I called Vassili, and 
he drove on to another "garden," deeply buried in 
snow. 

When I entered the rooms at this place, I per- 
ceived at a glance that matters had mended. There 
was the hum of many voices, and a perfume like that 
of tea and many papiross, or cigarettes, with a prompt 
sense of society and of enjoyment. I was dazzled at 
first by the glare of the lights, and could distinguish 
nothing, unless it was that the numerous company re- 
garded me with utter amazement ; for it was an " off 
night," when no business was expected, few were 
there save " professionals " and their friends, and I 
was manifestly an unexpected intruder on Bohemia. 



62 TEE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

As luck would have it, that which I believed was 
the one worst night in the year to find the gypsy 
minstrels proved to be the exceptional occasion when 
they were all assembled, and I had hit upon it. Of 
course this struck me pleasantly enough as I looked 
around, for I knew that at a touch the spell would 
be broken, and with one word I should have the 
warmest welcome from all. I had literally not a 
single speaking acquaintance within a thousand miles, 
and yet here was a room crowded with gay and fes- 
tive strangers, whom the slightest utterance would 
convert into friends. 

I was not disappointed. Seeking for an opportu- 
nity, I saw a young man of gentlemanly appearance, 
well dressed, and with a mild and amiable air. Speak- 
ing to him in German, I asked the very needless ques- 
tion if there were any gypsies present. 

" You wish to hear them sing ? " he inquired. 

" I do not. I only want to talk with one, with 
any one." 

He appeared to be astonished, but, pointing to a 
handsome, slender young lady, a very dark brunette, 
elegantly attired in black silk, said, 

" There is one." 

I stepped across to the girl, who rose to meet me. 
I said nothing for a few seconds, but looked at her 
intently, and then asked, 

" Rakessa tu Romanes , miri pen ? " (Do you talk 
Romany, my sister ?) 

She gave one deep, long glance of utter astonish- 
ment, drew one long breath, and, with a cry of de- 
light and wonder, said, 

" Romanichal ! " 

That word awoke the entire company, and with if 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 63 

they found out who the intruder was. " Then might 
you hear them cry aloud, ' The Moringer is here ! ' ' 
for I began to feel like the long-lost lord returned, 
BO warm was my welcome. They flocked around me ; 
they cried aloud in Romany, and one good-natured, 
smiling man, who looked like a German gypsy, 
mounting a chair, waved a guitar by its neck high 
in the air as a signal of discovery of a great prize to 
those at a distance, repeating rapidly, 

" Avakai, avakai, Eomanichal ! " (Come here ; 
here 's a gypsy !) 

And they came, dark and light, great and small, 
and got round me, and shook hands, and held to my 
arms, and asked where I came from, and how I did, 
and if it was n't jolly, and what would I take to 
drink, and said how glad they were to see me ; and 
when conversation flagged for an instant, somebody 
said to his next neighbor, with an air of wisdom, 
" American Romany," and everybody repeated it with 
delight. Then it occurred to the guitarist and the 
young lady that we had better sit down. So my first 
acquaintance and discoverer, whose name was Liu- 
basha, was placed, in right of preemption, at my 
right hand, the belle des belles, Miss Sarsha, at my 
left, a number of damsels all around these, and then 
three or four circles of gypsies, of different ages and 
L .ints, standing up, surrounded us all. In the outer 
ring were several fast-looking and pretty Russian or 
German blonde girls, whose mission it is, I believe, 
to dance and flirt with visitors, and a few 
gentlemanly-looking Russians, vieux garpons, evi- 
dently of the kind who are at home behind the 
scenes, and who knew where to come to enjoy them- 
selves. Altogether there must have been about fifty 



54 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

present, and I soon observed that every word I ut> 
tered was promptly repeated, while every eye was 
fix i-d nil inc. 

I could converse in Romany with the guitarist, 
and without much difficulty; but with the charming, 
heedless young ladies I had as much trouble to talk 
as with their sisters in St. Petersburg. The young 
gentleman already referred to, to whom in my fancy 
I promptly gave the Offenbachian name of Prince 
Paul, translated whenever there was a misunder- 
standing, and in a few minutes we were all intimate. 
Miss Sarsha, who had a slight cast in one of her wild 
black eyes, which added something to the gypsiness 
and roguery of her smiles, and who wore in a ring a 
large diamond, which seemed as if it might be the 
rig] it eye in the wrong place, was what is called an 
earnest young lady, with plenty to say and great 
j-in-rgy wherewith to say it. What with her eyes, 
her diamond, her smiles, and her tongue, she consti- 
tuted altogether a fine specimen of irrepressible fire- 
works, and Prince Paul had enough to do in facili- 
tating conversation. There was no end to his po- 
liteness, but it was an impossible task for him now 
and then promptly to carry over a long sentence 
from German to Russian, and he would give it up 
like an invincible conundrum, with the patient smile 
and head-wag and hand-wave of an amiable Dun- 
dreary. Yet I began to surmise a mystery even in 
him. More than once he inadvertently betrayed a 
knowledge of Romany, though he invariably spoke 
of his friends around in a patronizing manner as 
"these gypsies." This was very odd, for in appear- 
ance ]n> \ V ;is a CJorgio of the Gorgios, and did not 
seem, despite any talent for languages which he might 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 55 

possess, likely to trouble himself to acquire Romany 
while Russian would answer every purpose of conver- 
sation. All of this was, however, explained to me 
afterward. 

Prince Paul again asked me if I had come out to 
hear a concert. I said, "No; that I had simply 
come out to see my brothers and sisters and talk 
with them, just as I hoped they would come to see 
me if I were in my own country." This speech pro- 
duced a most favorable impression, and there was, in 
a quiet way, a little private conversation among the 
leaders, after which Prince Paul said to me, in a 
very pleasant manner, that " these gypsies," being 
delighted at the visit from the gentleman from a 
distant country, would like to offer me a song in 
token of welcome. To this I answered, with many 
thanks, that such kindness was more than I had ex- 
pected, for I was well aware of the great value of such 
a compliment from singers whose fame had reached 
me even in America. It was evident that my grain of 
a reply did not fall upon stony ground, for I never was 
among people who seemed to be so quickly impressed 
by any act of politeness, however trifling. A bow, 
a grasp of the hand, a smile, or a glance would grat- 
ify them, and this gratification their lively black eyes 
expressed in the most unmistakable manner. 

So we had the song, wild and wonderful like all 
of its kind, given with that delightful abandon which 
attains perfection only among gypsies. I had enjoyed 
the singing in St. Petersburg, but there was a laisser 
alter, a completely gay spirit, in this Christmas-Eve 
jrypsy party in Moscow which was much more " whirl- 
ing away." For at Dorot the gypsies had been on 
exhibition ; here at Petrovka tuey were frolicking en 



56 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 



with a favored guest, a Romany rye from 
a far land to astonish and delight, and he took good 
care to let them feel that they were achieving a splen- 
did success, for I declared many times that it was 
butsi sliukdr, or very beautiful. Then I called for 
tea and lemon, and after that the gypsies sang for 
their own amusement, Miss Sarsha, as the incarna- 
tion of fun and jollity, taking the lead, and mak- 
ing me join in. Then the crowd made way, and in 
the space appeared a very pretty little girl, in the 
graceful old gypsy Oriental dress. This child danced 
charmingly indeed, in a style strikingly like that of 
the Almeh of Egypt, but without any of the erotic ex- 
pressions which abound in Eastern pantomime. This 
little Romany girl was to me enchanting, being alto- 
gether unaffected and graceful. It was evident that 
her dancing, like the singing of her elder sisters, was 
not an art which had been drilled in by instruction. 
They had come into it in infancy, and perfected 
themselves by such continual practice that what they 
did was as natural as walking or talking. When the 
dancing was over, I begged that the little girl would 
come to me, and, kissing her tiny gypsy hand, I said, 
" Spassibo tute kamli, eto hi' butsi shukdr " (Thank 
you, dear; that is very pretty), with which the rest 
were evidently pleased. I had observed among the 
singers, at a little distance, a very remarkable and 
rather handsome old woman, a good study for an 
artist, and she, as I also noticed, had sung with a 
powerful and clear voice. "She is our grandmother,'* 
wiid one of tlie inrls. Now, as every student of gyp- 
knows, the first thing to do in England or Ger- 
many, on entering a tent-gypsy encampment, is to 
be polite to " the old woman." Unless you can win 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 57 



her good opinion you had better be gone. The Rus- 
sian city Roms have apparently no such fancies. On 
the road, however, life is patriarchal, and the grand- 
mother is a power to be feared. As a fortune-teller 
she is a witch, ever at warfare with the police world ; 
she has a bitter tongue, and is quick to wrath. This 
was not the style or fashion of the old gypsy singer ; 
but, as soon as I saw the puri babali dye, I requested 
that she would shake hand with me, and by the im- 
pression which this created I saw that the Romany 
of the city had not lost all the feelings of the road. 

I spoke of WaramofFs beautiful song of the " Kras- 
neya Sarafan," which Sarsha began at once to war- 
ble. The characteristic of Russian gypsy-girl voices 
is a peculiarly delicate metallic tone, like that of 
the two silver bells of the Tower of Ivan Velikoi 
when heard from afar, yet always" marked with 
fineness and strength. This is sometimes startling 
in the wilder effects, but it is always agreeable. 
These Moscow gypsy girls have a great name in their 
art, and it was round the shoulders of one of them 
for aught I know it may have been Sarsha's great- 
grandmother that Catalani threw the cashmere 
shawl which had been given to her by the Pope as 
" to the best singer in the world." " It is not mine 
by right," said the generous Italian ; " it belongs to 
the gypsy." 

The gypsies were desirous of learning something 
about the songs of their kindred in distant lands, and, 
though no singer, I did my best to please them, the 
guitarist easily improvising accompaniments, while 
the girls joined in. As all were in a gay mood, 
faults were easily excused, and the airs were much 
liked, one lyric, set by Virginia Gabriel, being even 



58 THE RUSSIAN' GYPSIES. 

more admired in Moscow than in St. Petersburg , 
apropos of which I may mention that, when I after- 
ward visited the gypsy family in their own home, 
the first request from Sarsha was, " Eto gilyo, rya!" 
(That song, sir), referring to "Romany," which has 
been heard at several concerts in London. And so, 
after much discussion of the affairs of Egypt, I took 
my leave amid a chorus of kind farewells. Then 
Vassili, loudly called for, reappeared from some nook 
with his elegantly frosted horse, and in a few minutes 
we were dashing homeward. Cold! It was as severe 
as in Western New York or Minnesota, where the 
thermometer for many days every winter sinks lower 
than in St. Petersburg, but where there are no such 
incredible precautions taken as in the land of double 
windows cemented down, and fur-lined shubas. It is 
remarkable that the gypsies, although of Oriental 
origin, are said to surpass the Russians in enduring 
cold ; and there is a marvelous story told about a 
Romany who, for a wager, undertook to sleep naked 
against a clothed Muscovite on the ice of a river dur- 
ing an unusually cold night. In the morning the 
Russian was found frozen stiff, while the gypsy was 
snoring away unharmed. As we returned, I saw in 
the town something which recalled this story in more 
than one monjik, who, well wrapped up, lay sleeping 
in the open air, under the lee of a house. 1'assing 
through silent Moscow on the. early Christinas morn, 
under the stars, as I gazed at the marvelous city, 
which yields neither to Edinburgh, Cairo, nor Prague 
in picturesqueness, and thought over the strange 
vrning I had spent amon^ the gypsies, I felt as if 
1 were in a melodrama with striking scenery. The 
pleasing finale was the utter amazement and almost 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 59 

speechless gratitude of Vassili at getting an extra 
half-ruble as an early Christmas gift. 

As I had received a pressing invitation from the 
gypsies to come again, I resolved to pay them a visit 
on Christinas afternoon in their own house, if I could 
find it. Having ascertained that the gypsy street was 
in a distant quarter, called the Grrouszini, I engaged a 
sleigh, standing before the door of the Slavan ski- 
Bazaar Hotel, and the usual close bargain with the 
driver was effected with the aid of a Russian gentle- 
man, a stranger passing by, who reduced the ruble 
(one hundred kopecks) at first demanded to seventy 
kopecks. After a very long drive we found ourselves 
in the gypsy street, and the istvostshik asked me, "To 
what house ? " 

" I don't know," I replied. " Gypsies live here, 
don't they ? " 

" Gypsies, and no others." 

" Well, I want to find a gypsy." 

The driver laughed, and just at that instant I saw, 
as if awaiting me on the sidewalk, Sarsha, Liubasha, 
and another young lady, with a good-looking youth, 
their brother. 

" This will do," I said to the driver, who appeared 
utterly amazed at seeing me greeted like an old friend 
by the Zigani, but who grinned with delight, as all 
Russians of the lower class invariably do at anything 
like sociability and fraternity. The damsels were 
faultlessly attired in Russian style, with full fur- 
lined, glossy black-satin cloaks and fine Orenberg 
scarfs, which are, I believe, the finest woolen fabrics 
in the world. The party were particularly anxious 
to know if I had come specially to visit them, for I 
have passed over the fact that I had also made the 



60 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

acquaintance of another very large family of gypsies, 
who sang at a rival cafe, and who had also treated 
me very kindly. I was at once conducted to a house, 
which we entered in a rather gypsy way, not in front, 
but through a court, a back door, and up a staircase, 
very much in the style of certain dwellings in the 
Potteries in London. But, having entered, I was led 
through one or two neat rooms, where I saw lying 
sound asleep on beds, but dressed, one or two very 
dark Romanys, whose faces I remembered. Then 
we passed into a sitting-room, which was very well 
furnished. I observed hanging up over the chimney- 
piece a good collection of photographs, nearly all of 
gypsies, and indicating that close resemblance to Hin- 
doos which comes out so strongly in such pictures, 
being, in fact, more apparent in the pictures than in 
the faces ; just as the photographs of the old Ulfilas 
manuscript revealed alterations not visible in the 
original. In the centre of the group was a cabinet- 
size portrait of Sarsha, and by it another of an Eng- 
lishman of very high rank. I thought this odd, but 
asked no questions. 

My hosts were very kind, offering me promptly a 
rich kind of Russian cake, begging to know what else 
I would like to eat or drink, and apparently dec-ply 
concerned that I could really partake of nothing, as I 
had just come from luncheon. They were all light- 
hearted and gay, so that the music began at once, as 
wild and as bewitching as ever. And here I observed, 
even more than before, how thoroughly sincere these 
gypsies were in their art, and to what a degree they 
enjoyed and were, excited by their own singing. Here 
in their own home, warbling like birds and frolicking 
Like children, their performance was even more de- 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 61 

lightful than it had been in the concert-room. There 
was evidently a great source of excitement in the 
fact that I must enjoy it far more than an ordinary 
stranger, because I understood Romany, and sympa- 
thized with gypsy ways, and regarded them not as the 
Graji or Gentiles do, but as brothers and sisters. I 
confess that I was indeed moved by the simple kind- 
ness with which I was treated, and I knew that, with 
the wonderfully keen perception of character in which 
gypsies excel, they perfectly understood my liking for 
them. It is this ready intuition of feelings which, 
when it is raised from an instinct to an art by prac- 
tice, enables shrewd old women to tell fortunes with 
so much skill. 

I was here introduced to the mother of the girls. 
She was a neat, pleasant-looking woman, of perhaps 
forty years, in appearance and manners irresistibly re- 
minding me of some respectable Cuban lady. Like 
the others, she displayed an intelligent curiosity as 
to my knowledge of Romany, and I was pleased at 
finding that she knew much more of the language 
than her children did. Then there entered a young 
Russian gentleman, but not "Prince Paul." He was, 
however, a very agreeable person, as all Russians can 
be when so minded; and they are always so minded 
when they gather, from information or conjecture, 
the fact that the stranger whom they meet is one 
of education or position. This young gentleman 
spoke French, and undertook the part of occasional 
translator. 

I asked Liubasha if any of them understood fort- 
une-telling. 

" No ; we have quite lost the art of dorriki. 1 None 

1 In Old English Romany this is called dorrikin ; in common par- 
ance. dukkerin. Both forms are real.lv old. 



G2 TUB RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

of us know anything about it. But we hear that 
you Romanichals over the Black Water understand 
it. Oh, rya" she cried, eagerly, "you know so 
much, you 're such a deep Romany, can't you 
tell fortunes?" 

" I should indeed know very little about Romany 
ways," I replied, gravely, " if I could not pen dorriki. 
But I tell you beforehand, terni pen, ' dorrikipen hi 
hokanipen,' little sister, fortune-telling is deceiving. 
Yet what the lines say I can read." 

In an instant six as pretty little gypsy hands as I 
ever beheld were thrust before me, and I heard as 
many cries of delight. "Tell my fortune, rya! tell 
mine! and mine!"'' exclaimed the damsels, and I 
complied. It was all very well to tell them there 
was nothing in it; they knew a trick worth two 
of that. I perceived at once that the faith which 
endures beyond its own knowledge was placed in all 
I said. In England the. gypsy woman, who at home 
ridicules her own fortune-telling and her dupes, still 
pu(s faith in a (/itxvcri innxli, or some "wise man," 
who with crystal or magical apparatus professes oc- 
cult knowledge ; for she thinks that her own false art 
is ;in imitation of a true one. It is really amusing to 
see the reverence with which an old gypsy will look 
at the awful hieroglyphics in Cornelius Agrippa's 
" Occult Philosophy;' or, better still, " Trithemius," 
and, as a gift, any ordinary fortune-telling book is 
esteemed by them beyond rubies. It is true that 
they cannot read it, but the precious volume is treas- 
ured like a fetich, and the owner is happy in the 
thought of at least possessing darksome and forbidden 
lore, though it be of no earthly use to her. After 
all the kindness they had shown me, I could not find 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 63 

it in my heart to refuse to tell these gentle Zingari 
their little fortunes. It is not, I admit, exactly in 
the order of things that the chicken should dress the 
cook, or the Gorgio tell fortunes to gypsies ; but he 
who wanders in strange lands meets with strange ad- 
ventures. So, with a full knowledge of the legal 
penalties attached in England to palmistry and other 
conjuration, and with the then pending Slade case 
knocking heavily on my conscience, I proceeded to 
examine and predict. When I afterward narrated 
this incident to the late G. H. Lewes, he expressed 
himself to the effect that to tell fortunes to gypsies 
struck him as the very ne plus ultra of cheek, which 
shows how extremes meet ; for verily it was with great 
modesty and proper diffidence that I ventured to fore- 
tell the lives of these little ladies, having an antipa- 
thy to the practice of chiromancing as to other ro- 
mancing. 

I have observed that as among men of great and 
varied culture, and of extensive experience, there are 
more complex and delicate shades and half-shades of 
light in the face, so in the palm the lines are corre- 
spondingly varied and broken. Take a man of intel- 
lect and a peasant, of equal excellence of figure ac- 
cording to the literal rules of art or of anatomy, and 
this subtile multiplicity of variety shows itself in the 
whole body in favor of the "gentleman," so that it 
would almost seem as if every book we read is repub- 
lished in the person. The first thing that struck me 
in these gypsy hands was the fewness of the lines, 
their clearly defined sweep, and their simplicity. In 
every one the line of life was unbroken, and, in fine, 
one might think from a drawing of the hand, and 
without knowing who its owner might be, that he or 



64 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

she was of a type of character unknown in most great 
European cities, a being gifted with special culture, 
and in a certain simple sense refined, but not en- 
dowed with experience in a thousand confused phases 
of life. The hands of a true genius, who has passed 
through life earnestly devoted to a single art, how- 
ever, are on the whole like these of the gypsies. 
Such, for example, are the hands of Fanny Janau- 
schek, the lines of which agree to perfection with the 
laws of chiromancy. The art reminds one of Cer- 
vantes's ape, who told the past and present, but not 
the future. And here " tell me what thou hast been, 
and I will tell what thou wilt be " gives a fine op- 
portunity to the soothsayer. 

To avoid mistakes I told the fortunes in French, 
which was translated into Russian. I need not say 
that every word was listened to with earnest atten- 
tion, or that the group of dark but young and comely 
faces, as they gathered around and bent over, would 
have made a good subject for a picture. After the 
girls, the mother must needs hear her dorriki also, 
and hist of all the young Russian gentleman, who 
seemed to take as earnest an interest in his future as 
even the gypsies. As he alone understood French, and 
as lie appeared to be in/ />cn </t'flr<7, and, finally, as 
the lines of his hand said nothing to the contrary, I 
predicted for him in detail a fortune in which bonnes 
fortunes were not at all wanting. I think he was 
pleased, but when I asked him if he would translate 
what I had said of his future into Russian, he replied 
with a slight wink and a scarcely perceptible nega- 
1 suppose, lie had his reasons for declining. 

Then we had singing again, and Christopher, th 
brother, a wild and gay young gypsy, became so ex 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES 65 

cited that while playing the guitar he also danced and 
caroled, and the sweet voices of the girls rose in cho- 
rus, and I was again importuned for the Romany 
song, and we had altogether a very Bohemian frolic. 
I was sorry when the early twilight faded into night, 
and I was obliged, notwithstanding many entreaties 
to the contrary, to take my leave. These gypsies 
had been very friendly and kind to me in a strange 
city, where I had not an acquaintance, and where I 
had expected none. They had given me of their 
very best ; for they gave me songs which I can never 
forget, and which were better to me than all the op- 
era could bestow. The young Russian, polite to the 
last, went bareheaded with me into the street, and, 
hailing u sleigh-driver, began to bargain for me. In 
Moscow, as in other places, it makes a great differ- 
ence in the fare whether one takes a public convey- 
ance from before the first hotel or from a house in 
the gypsy quarter. I had paid seventy kopecks to 
come, and I at once found that my new friend and 
the driver were engaged in wild and fierce dispute 
whether I should pay twenty or thirty to return. 

" Oh, give him thirty ! " I exclaimed. " It 's little 
enough." 

" Nbn," replied the Russian, with the air of a man 
of principles. "11 ne faut pas gdter ces gens-la." 
But I gave the driver thirty, all the same, when we 
got home, and thereby earned the usual shower of 
blessings. 

A few days afterward, while going from Moscow 
to St. Petersburg, I made the acquaintance of a young 
Russian noble and diplomat, who was well informed 
on all current gossip, and learned from him some 
mrious facts. The first young gentleman whom I 



66 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

hud seen among the Romanys of Moscow was the 
son of a Russian prince by a gypsy mother, and the 
very noble Englishman whose photograph I had seen 
in Sarsha's collection had not l"iig ngo (as rumor 
averred) paid desperate attentions to the belle of the 
Romanys without obtaining the least success. My 
informant did not know her name. Putting this and 
that together, I think it highly probable that Sarsha 
was the young lady, and that the latcho bar, or dia- 
mond, which sparkled on her finger had been paid 
for with British gold, while the donor had gained the 
same "unluck" which befell one of his type in the 
Spanish gypsy song as given by George Borrow : 

" Loud sang the Spanish cavalier, 

And thus his ditty ran : 
' God send the gypsy maiden here, 
But not the gypsy man.' 

" On high arose the moon so bright, 

The gypsy 'gan to 81 
'I see a Spaniard coming here, 
I must be on the wing. * " 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 



I. 

IN June, 1878, 1 went to Paris, during the great 
Exhibition. I had been invited by Monsieur Ed- 
mond About to attend as a delegate the Congres In- 
ternationale Litte'raire, which was about to be held in 
the great city. How we assembled, how M. About 
distinguished himself as one of the most practical and 
common-sensible of men of genius, and how we were 
all finally harangued by M. Victor Hugo with the 
most extraordinary display of oratorical sky-rockets, 
Catherine-wheels, blue-lights, fire-crackers, and pin- 
wheels by which it was ever my luck to be amused, 
is matter of history. But this chapter is only autobi- 
ographical, and we will pass over the history. As an 
Anglo-American delegate, I was introduced to several 
great men gratis ; to the greatest of all I introduced 
myself at the expense of half a franc. This was to 
the Chinese giant, Chang, who was on exhibition at 
a small caf garden near the Trocadero. There were 
no other visitors in his pavilion when I entered. He 
received me with politeness, and we began to con- 
verse in fourth-story English, but gradually went 
down-stairs into Pidgin, until we found ourselves fairly 
in the kitchen of that humble but entertaining dia- 
lect. It is a remarkable sensation to sit alone with 



68 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

a mild monster, and feel like a little boy. I do not 
distinctly remember whether Chang is eight, or ten, 
or twelve feet high ; I only know that, though I am, 
as lie said, "one velly big piecee man," I sat and 
lifted my eyes from time to time at the usual level, 
forgetfully expecting to meet his eyes, and beheld 
instead the buttons on his breast. Then I looked 
up like Daruma to Buddha and up, and saw 
far above me his " lights of the soul " gleaming down 
on me as it were from the top of a lofty beacon. 

I soon found that Chang, regarding all things from 
a giant's point of view, esteemed mankind by their 
size and looks. Therefore, as he had complimented 
me according to his lights, I replied that he was a 
" numpa one too muchee glanti handsome man, first 
chop big." 

Then he added, " You belongy Inklis man ? " 

" No. My one piecee fa-ke-lcwok ; J my Mclican, 
galaw. You dlinkee ale some-tim ? " 

The giant replied that pay-wine, which is Pidgin 
for beer, was not ungrateful to his palate or foreign 
to his habits. So we had a quart of Alsopp between 
us, and drank to better acquaintance. I found that 
the giant had exhibited himself in many lands, and 
taken great pains to learn the language of each, so 
that he spoke German, Italian, and Spanish well 
enough. He had been at a mission-school when he 
used to "stop China-side," or was in his native land 
I assured him that I had perceived it from the first, 
because he evidently "talked ink," as his countrymen 
say of words which are uttered by a scholar, and I 
ilv gratified him by citing some of my own 
" beautiful verses," which are reversed from a Chinese 
original : 

1 Flower-flag-nation man ; that is, American. 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 69 

" One man who never leadee l 
Like one dly 2 inkstan be : 
You turn he up-side downy, 
No ink lun 3 outside he." 

So we parted with, mutual esteem. This was the 
second man by the name of Chang whom I had 
known, and singularly enough they were both exhib- 
ited as curiosities. The other made a living as a 
Siamese twin, and his brother was named Eng. They 
wrote their autographs for me, and put them wisely 
at the very top of the page, lest I should write a 
promise to pay an immense sum of money, or forge a 
free pass to come into the exhibition gratis over their 
signatures. 

Having seen Chang, I returned to the HOtel de 
Louvre, dined, and then went forth with friends to 
the Orangerie. This immense garden, devoted to 
concerts, beer, and cigars, is said to be capable of 
containing three thousand people ; before I left it 
it held about five thousand. I knew not why this 
unwonted crowd had assembled ; when I found the 
cause I was astonished, with reason. At the gate 
was a bill, on which I read " Les Bohemiennes de 
Moscow." 

" Some small musical comedy, I suppose," I said to 
myself. " But let us see it." We pressed on. 

" Look there ! " said my companion. " Those are 
certainly gypsies." 

Sure enough, a procession of men and women, 
strangely dressed in gayly colored Oriental garments, 
was entering the gates. But I replied, " Impossible 
Not here in Paris. Probably they are performers." 

" But see. They notice yon. That girl certainly 

1 Leadee, reads. 2 Dly, dry. 8 Lun, run. 



70 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

knows you. She's turning her head. There, I 
heard her say O Romany rye ! " 

I was bewildered. The crowd was dense, but as 
the procession passed me at a second turn I saw 
they were indeed gypsies, and I was grasped by the 
hand by more than one. They were my old friends 
from Moscow. This explained the immense multi- 
tude. There was during the Exhibition a great furor 
as regarded les zigains. The gypsy orchestra which 
performed in the Hungarian cafe was so beset by 
visitors that a comic paper represented them as cov- 
ering the roofs of the adjacent houses so as to hear 
something. This evening the Russian gypsies were 
to make their ddbut in the Orangerie, and they were 
frightened at their own success. They sang, but 
their voices were inaudible to two thirds of the audi- 
ence, and those who could not hear roared, " Louder ! " 
Then they adjourned to the open air, where the voices 
were lost altogether on a crowd calling, " Grarfon 
vite une tasse caf^l" or applauding. In the in- 
tervals scores of young Russian gentlemen, golden 
swells, who had known the girls of old, gathered 
round the fair ones like moths around tapers. The 
singing was not the same as it had been ; the voices 
were, the same, but the sweet wild charm of the 
Romany caroling, bird-like, for pleasure was gone. 

But I found by themselves and unnoticed two of 
the troupe, whom I shall not soon forget. They were; 
two very handsome youths, one of sixteen years, 
the oilier twenty. And with the first words in Rom- 
any they fairly jumped for joy, and the artist who 
could have caught their picture then would have 
made a brave one. They were clad in blouses of 
colored silk, which, with their fine dark complexions 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 71 

and great black eyes, gave them a very picturesque 
air. These had not seen me in Russia, nor had they 
heard of me ; they were probably from Novogorod. 
Like the girls they were children, but in a greater 
degree, for they had not been flattered, and kind 
words delighted them so that they clapped their 
hands. They began to hum gypsy songs, and had I 
not prevented it they would have run at once and 
brought a guitar, and improvised a small concert for 
me al fresco. I objected to this, not wishing to take 
part any longer in such a very public exhibition. 
For the gobe-moucfies and starers, noticing a stranger 
talking with ces zigains, had begun to gather in a 
dense crowd around us, and the two ladies and the 
gentleman who were with us were seriously incon- 
venienced. We endeavored to step aside, but the 
multitude stepped aside also, and would not let us 
alone. They were French, but they might have 
been polite. As it was, they broke our merry con- 
ference up effectively, and put us to flight. 

" Do let us come and see you, rya" said the 
younger boy. " We will sing, for I can really sing 
beautifully, and we like you so much. Where do 
you live ? " 

I could not invite them, for I was about to leave 
Paris, as I then supposed. I have never seen them 
since, and there was no adventure and no strange 
scenery beyond the thousands of lights and guests 
and trees and voices speaking French. Yet to this 
day the gay boyishness, the merry laughter, and the 
child-like naivctS of the promptly-formed liking of 
those gypsy youths remains impressed on my mind 
with all the color and warmth of an adventure or a 
living poem. Can you recall no child by any way- 



72 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

side of life to whom you have given a chance smile 
or a kind word, and been repaid with artless sudden 
attraction ? For to all of us, yes, to the coldest and 
worst, there are such memories of young people, of 
children, and I pity him who, remembering them, 
does not feel the touch of a vanished hand and hear 
a chord which is still. There are adventures which 
we can tell to others as stories, but the best have no 
story ; they may be only the memory of a strange 
dog which followed us, and I have one such of a cat 
who, without any introduction, leaped wildly towards 
me, " and would not thence away." It is a good life 
which has many such memories. 

I was walking a day or two after with an English 
friend, who was also a delegate to the International 
Literary Congress, in the Exhibition, when we ap- 
proached the side gate, or rear entrance of the Hun- 
garian cafe*. Six or seven dark and strange-looking 
men stood about, dressed in the uniform of a military 
band. I caught their glances, and saw that they were 
Romany. 

" Now you shall see something queer," I said to 
my friend. 

So advancing to the first dark man I greeted him 
in gypsy. 

" I do not understand you," he promptly replied 
or lied. 

I turned to a second. 

" You have more sense, and you do understand. 
Adro miro tern penena mande o baro rai" (In my 
country the gypsies call me the great gentleman.) 

This phrase may be translated to mean either the 
" tall gentleman " or the " great lord." It was ap- 
parently taken in the latter sense, for at once all the 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 73 

party bowed very low, raising their bands to tbeir 
foreheads, in Oriental fashion. 

" Hallo ! " exclaimed my English friend, who had 
not understood what I had said. " What game is 
this you are playing on these fellows ? " 

Up to the front came a superior, the leader of the 
band. 

44 Great God ! " he exclaimed, ' 4 what is this I hear? 
This is wonderful. To think that there should be 
anybody here to talk with ! I can only talk Magyar 
and Romanes." 

44 And what do you talk ? " I inquired of the first 
violin. 

44 IcJi spreche nur Deutsch ! " he exclaimed, with a 
strong Vienna accent and a roar of laughter. 44 1 
only talk German." 

This worthy man, I found, was as much delighted 
with my German as the leader with my gypsy ; and 
in all my experience I never met two beings so 
charmed at being able to converse. That I should 
have met with them was of itself wonderful. Only 
there was this difference : that the Viennese burst 
into a laugh every time he spoke, while the gypsy 
grew more sternly solemn and awfully impressive. 
There are people to whom mere talking is a pleas- 
ure, never mind the ideas, and here I had struck 
two at once. I once knew a gentleman named Stew- 
art. He was the mayor, first physician, and post- 
master of St. Paul, Minnesota. While camping out, 
en route, and in a tent with him, it chanced that 
among the other gentlemen who had tented with us 
there were two terrible snorers. Now Mr. Stewart 
had heard that you may stop a man's snoring by 
whistling. And here was a wonderful opportunity. 



74 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

"So I waited," he said, " until one man was coining 
down \vitli his snore, diminuendo, while the other 
was rising, crescendo, and at the exact point of inter- 
section, moderate, I blew my car-whistle, and so got 
both birds at one shot. I stopped them both." 
Even as Mayor Stewart had winged his two birds 
with one ball had I hit my two peregrines. 

" We are now going to perform," said the gypsy 
captain. " Will you not take seats on the platform, 
and hear us play ? " 

I did not know it at the time, but I heard after- 
wards that this was a great compliment, and one 
rarely bestowed. The platform was small, and we 
were very near our new friends. Scarcely had the 
performance begun ere I perceived that, just as the 
gypsies in Russia had sung their best in my honor, 
these artists were exerting themselves to the utmost, 
and, all unheeding the audience, playing directly at 
me and into me. When any tuur was deftly made 
the dark master nodded to me with gleaming ey. 
if saying, " What do you think of that, now ? " The 
Viennese laughed for joy every time his glance met 
mine, and as I looked at the various Lajoshes and 
Joshkas of the band, they blew, beat, or scraped with 
redoubled fury, or sank into thrilling tenderness. 
Hurrah ! here was somebody to play to who knew 
gypsy and all the games thereof; for a very little, 
even a word, reveals a, ^Teat deal, and I must be a 
virtuoso, at least by Romany, if not by art. It was 
with all the joy of success that the first piece ended 
amid thunders of applause. 

I not the racoczy" I said. " Yet it 
sounded like it." 

" No," said the captain. " But now you shall hear 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 75 

the racoczy and the czardas as you never heard them 
before. For we can play that better than any or- 
chestra in Vienna. Truly, you will never forget us 
after hearing it." 

And then they played the racoczy, the national 
Hungarian favorite, of gypsy composition, with heart 
and soul. As these men played for me, inspired with 
their own music, feeling and enjoying it far more than 
the audience, and all because they had got a gypsy 
gentleman to play to, I appreciated what a life that 
was to them, and what it should be ; not cold-blooded 
skill, aiming only at excellence or preexcellence and 
at setting up the artist, but a fire and a joy, a self- 
forgetfulness which whirls the soul away as the soul 
of the Moenad went with the stream adown the 
mountains, Evoe Bacchus ! This feeling is deep in 
the heart of the Hungarian gypsy ; he plays it, he 
feels it in every air, he knows the rush of the stream 
as it bounds onwards, knows that it expresses his 
deepest desire ; and so he has given it words in a 
song which, to him who has the key, is one of the 
most touching ever written : 

" Dyal o pani repedishis, 
M'ro pirano hegedishis ; 

" Dyal o pani tale vatra, 
M'ro pirano klanetaha. 

" Dyal o pani pe kishai 
M'ro pirano tsino rai." 

" The stream runs on with rushing din 
As I hear my true love's violin; 

" And the river rolls o'er rock and stone 
As he plays the flute so sweet alone. 

" Runs o'er the sand as it began, 
Then my true love lives a gentleman." 



76 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

Yes, music whirling the soul away as on a rushing 
river, the violin notes falling like ripples, the flute 
tones all aflow among the rocks ; and when it sweeps 
adagio on the sandy bed, then the gypsy player is 
at heart equal to a lord, then he feels a gentleman. 
The only true republic is art. There all earthly dis- 
tinctions pass away ; there he is best who lives and 
feels best, and makes others feel, not that he is clev- 
erer than they, but that he can awaken sympathy 
and joy. 

The intense reality of musical art as a comforter 
to these gypsies of Eastern Europe is wonderful. 
Among certain inedited songs of the Trail sylvanian 
gypsies, in the Kolosvarer dialect, I find the fol- 
lowing : 

" Na janav ko dad m'ro as, 

Niko mallen mange as, 

Miro gule dai merdyas 

Pirani me pregelyas. 

Uva tu o hegcdive 

Tu sal miudlk pash mange." 

" I Ve known no father since my birth, 
I have no friend alive on earth ; 
My mother 's dead this many day, 
The girl I loved has gone her way ; 
Thou violin with music free 
Alone art ever true to me." 

It is very wonderful that the charm of the Russian 
gypsy girls' singing was destroyed by the atmosphere 
or applause of a Paris concert-room, while the Hun- 
garian Romanys conquered it as it were by sheer 
force, and by conquering gave their music the charm 
of intensity. I do not deny that in this music, be it 
of voice or instruments, there is much which is per- 
haps imagined, which depends on association, which 
is plain to John but not to Jack ; but you have only 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 77 

fco advance or retreat a few steps to find the same in 
the highest art. This, at least, we know: that no per- 
former at any concert in London can awake the feel- 
ing of intense enjoyment which these wild minstrels 
excite in themselves and in others by sympathy. 
Now it is a question in many forms as to whether 
art for enjoyment is to die, and art for the sake of 
art alone survive. Is joyous and healthy nature to 
vanish step by step from the heart of man, and mor- 
bid, egoistic pessimism to take its place ? Are over- 
culture, excessive sentiment, constant self-criticism, 
and all the brood of nervous curses to monopolize 
and inspire art ? A fine alliance this they are mak- 
ing, the ascetic monk and the atheistic pessimist, to 
kill Nature ! They will never effect it. It may die 
in many forms. It may lose its charm, as the singing 
of Sarsha and of Liubasha was lost among the rust- 
ling and noise of thousands of Parisian ladauds in 
the Orangerie. But there will be stronger forms of 
art, which will make themselves heard, as the Hun- 
garian Romanys heeded no din, and bore all away with 
their music. 

" Latcho divvus miri pralia ! miduvel atch pa 
tumende!" (Good-day, my brothers. God rest on 
you) I said, and they rose and bowed, and I went 
forth into the Exhibition. It was a brave show, that 
of all the fine things from all parts of the world which 
man can make, but to me the most interesting of all 
>vere the men themselves. Will not the managers of 
the next world show give us a living ethnological 
department ? 

Of these Hungarian gypsies who played in Paris 
during the Exhibition much was said in the news- 
papers, and from the following, which appeared in an 



78 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

American journal, written by some one to me un- 
known, the reader may learn that there were many 
others to whom their music was deeply thrilling or 
wildly exciting : 

" The Hungarian Tziganes (Zigeuner) are the rage 
just now at Paris. The story is that Liszt picked out 
the individuals composing the band one by one from 
among the gypsy performers in Hungary and Bo- 
hemia. Half-civilized in appearance, dressed in an 
unbecoming half-military costume, they are nothing 
while playing Strauss' waltzes or their own ; but 
when they play the Radetsky Defile, the Racoksky 
March, or their marvelous czardas, one sees and 
hears the battle, and it is easy to understand the in- 
fluence of their music in fomenting Hungarian revo- 
lutions ; why for so long it was made treasonable to 
play or listen to these czardas ; and why, as they 
heard them, men rose to their feet, gathered together, 
and with tears rolling down tlirir faces, and throats 
swelling with emotion, departed to do or die." 

And when I remember that they played for me as 
they said they had played for no other man in Paris, 
"into the ear," and when I think of the gleam in 
their eyes, I verily believe they told the truth, I feel 
^lad that I chanced that morning on those dark men 
and spoke to them in Romany. 

Since the above was written I have met in an 
tntertaining work called "Unknown limitary," by 
Victor Tissot, with certain remarks on the Hungarian 
gypsy musicians which are so appropriate that I cite 
them in full : 

" The gypsy artists in Hungary play by inspira- 
tion, with inimitable verve and spirit, without even 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 79 

knowing their notes, and nothing whatever of the 
rhymes and rules of the masters. Liszt, who has 
closely studied them, says, The art of music being 
for them a sublime language, a song, mystic in itself, 
though dear to the initiated, they use it according to 
the wants of the moment which they wish to express. 
They have invented their music for their own use, to 
eing about themselves to themselves, to express them- 
selves in the most heartfelt and touching monologues. 

" Their music is as free as their lives ; no inter- 
mediate modulation, no chords, no transition, it goes 
from one key to another. From ethereal heights 
they precipitate you into the howling depths of hell ; 
froxi the plaint, barely heard, they pass brusquely to 
the warrior's song, which bursts loudly forth, passion- 
ate and tender, at once burning and calm. Their 
melodies plunge you into a melancholy reverie, or 
carry you away into a stormy whirlwind ; they are a 
faithful expression of the Hungarian character, some- 
times quick, brilliant, and lively, sometimes sad and 
apathetic. 

" The gypsies, when they arrived in Hungary, had 
no music of their own ; they appropriated the Mag- 
yar music, and made from it an original art which 
now belongs to them." 

I here break in upon Messieurs Tissot and Liszt to 
remark that, while it is very probable that the Roms 
reformed Hungarian music, it is rather boldly assumed 
that they had no music of their own. It was, among 
other callings, as dancers and musicians that they left 
India and entered Europe, and among them were 
doubtless many descendants of the ten thousand Indo- 
Persian Luris or Nuris. But to resume quotation: 

" They made from it an art full of life, passion, 



80 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

laughter, and tears. The instrument which the gyp- 
sies prefer is the violin, which they call las' alja, ' the 
king of instruments.' They also play the viola, the 
cymbal, and the clarionet. 

" There was a pause. The gypsies, who had per- 
ceived at a table a comfortable-looking man, evi- 
dently wealthy, and on a pleasure excursion in the 
town, came down from their platform, and ranged 
themselves round him to give him a serenade all to 
himself, as is their custom. They call this ' playing 
into the ear.' 

" They first asked the gentleman his favorite air, 
and then played it with such spirit and enthusiasm 
and overflowing richness of variation and ornament, 
and with so much emotion, that it drew forth the 
applause of the whole company. After this they 
executed a czardas, one of the wildest, most feverish, 
harshest, and, one may say, tormenting, as if to pour 
intoxication into the soul of their listener. They 
watched his countenance to note the impression pro- 
duced by the passionate rhythm of their instruments; 
then, breaking off suddenly, they played a hushed, 
soft, caressing measure ; and again, almost breaking 
the trembling cords of their bows, they produced 
Biich an intensity of effect that the listener was al- 
most beside himself with delight and astonishment. 
He sat as if bewitched ; he shut his eyes, hung his 
head in melancholy, or raised it with a start, as the 
music varied ; then jumped up and struck the back 
of his head with his hands. He positively lauglunl 
\ml cried at once; then, drawing a roll of bank-notes 
from his pocket-book, lie threw it to the gypsies, and 
fell back in his chair, as if exhausted with so much 
enjoyment. And in this lies the triumph of tho 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 81 

gypsy music ; it is like that of Orpheus, which moved 
the rocks and trees. The soul of the Hungarian 
plunges, with a refinement of sensation that we can 
understand, but cannot follow, into this music, which, 
like the unrestrained indulgence of the imagination in 
fantasy and caprice, gives to the initiated all the in- 
toxicating sensations experienced by opium smokers." 
The Austrian gypsies have many songs which per- 
fectly reflect their character. Most of them are only 
single verses of a few lines, such as are sung every- 
where in Spain ; others, which are longer, seem to 
have grown from the connection of these verses. The 
following translation from the Roumanian Romany 
(Vassile Alexandri) gives an idea of their style and 
spirit : - 

GYPSY SONG. 

The wind whistles over the heath, 
The moonlight flits over the flood; 
And the gypsy lights up his fire, 
In the darkness of the wood. 

Hurrah ! 
In the darkness of the wood. 

Free is the bird in the air, 
And the fish where the river flows; 
Free is the deer in the forest, 
And the gypsy wherever he goes. 

Hurrah ! 
And the gypsy wherever he goes. 

A GORGIO GENTLEMAN SPEAKS 

Girl, wilt thou live in my home? 
I will give thee a sable gown, 
And golden coins for a necklace, 
If thou wilt be my own. 

GYPSY GIRL. 

No wild horse will leave the prairie 
For a harness with silver stars ; 



82 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

Nor an eagle the crags of the mountain, 
For a cage with golden bars ; 

Nor the gypsy girl the forest, 

Or the meadow, though gray and cold, 

For garments made of sable, 

Or necklaces of gold. 

THE GORGIO. 

Girl, wilt thou live in my dwelling, 
For pearls and diamonds true ? l 
I will give thee a bed of scarlet, 
And a royal palace, too. 

GYPSY GIRL. 

My white teeth are my pearlins, 
My diamonds my own black eyes ; 
My bed is the soft green meadow, 
My palace the world as it lies. 

Free is the bird in the air, 
And the fish where the river flows; 
Free is the deer in the forest, 
And the gypsy wherever he goes. 

Hurrah ! 
And the gypsy wherever he goes. 

There is a deep, strange element in the gypsy char- 
acter, which finds no sympathy or knowledge in the 
German, and very little in other Europeans, but 
which is so much in accord with the Slavonian and 
Hungarian that he who truly feels it with love is often 
disposed to mingle them together. It is a dreamy 
mysticism ; an indefinite semi-supernaturalism, often 
passing into gloom; a feeling as of Buddhism which 
has glided into Northern snows, and taken a new and 
darker life in winter-lands. It is strong in the Czech 
or Bohemian, whose nature is the worst understood 
in the civilized world. That he should hate the Ger- 

1 Diamonds true. latcho bar (in England, tatcho bar), " the true 
r real stone," is the gypsy for a diamond. 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 83 

man with all his heart and soul is in the order of 
things. We talk about the mystical Germans, but 
German self-conscious mysticism is like a problem of 
Euclid beside the natural, unexpressed dreaminess of 
the Czech. The German mystic goes to work at once 
to expound his " system " in categories, dressing it up 
in a technology which in the end proves to be the only 
mystery in it. The Bohemian and gypsy, each in 
their degrees of culture, form no system and make no 
technology, but they feel all the more. Now the 
difference between true and imitative mysticism is 
that the former takes no form ; it is even narrowed 
by religious creeds, and wing-clipt by pious " illumi- 
nation." Nature, and nature alone, is its real life. 
It was from the Southern Slavonian lands that all real 
mysticism, and all that higher illumination which 
means freedom, came into Germany and Europe ; 
and after all, Germany's first and best mystic, Jacob 
Bohme, was Bohemian by name, as he was by nat- 
ure. When the world shall have discovered who the 
as yet unknown Slavonian German was who wrote 
all the best part of " Consuelo," and who helped him- 
self in so doing from " Der letzte Taborit," by Her- 
lossohn, we shall find one of the few men who under- 
stood the Bohemian. 

Once in a while, as in Fanny Janauschek, the 
Czech bursts out into art, and achieves a great tri- 
umph. I have seen Rachel and Ristori many a time, 
but their best acting was shallow compared to Janau- 
Bchek's, as I have seen it in by-gone years, when she 
played Iphigenia and Medea in German. No one 
save a Bohemian could ever so intuit the gloomy 
profundity and unearthly fire of the Colchian sorcer- 
ess. These are the things required to perfect every 



84 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

artist, above all, the tragic artist, that the tree 
of his or her genius shall not only soar to heaven 
among the angels, but also have roots in the depths 
of darkness and fire ; and that he or she shall play 
not only to the audience, and in sympathy with them, 
but also unto one's self and down to one's deepest 
dreams. 

No one will accuse me of wide discussion or pad- 
ding who understands my drift in this chapter. I am 
speaking of the gypsy, and I cannot explain him more 
clearly than by showing his affinities with the Slavo- 
nian and Magyar, and how, through music and prob- 
ably in many other ways, he has influenced them. As 
the Spaniard perfectly understands the objective vag- 
abond side of the Gitano, so the Southeastern Euro- 
pean understands the musical and wild-forest yearn- 
ings of the Tsigane. Both to gypsy and Slavonian 
there is that which makes them dream so that even 
debauchery has for them at times an unearthly in- 
spiration ; and as smoking was inexpressibly sacred to 
the red Indians of old, so that when the Guatemalan 
Christ harried hell, the demons offered him cigars ; 
in like manner tipsiness is often to the gypsy and 
Servian, or Czech, or Croat, something so serious and 
impressive that it is a thing not to be lightly thought 
of, but to be undertaken with intense deliberation 
and under due appreciation of its benefits. 

Many years ago, when I had begun to feel this 
strange element I gave it expression in a poem which 
I called " The Bohemian," as expressive of both gypsy 
and Slavonian nature : 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 85 



THE BOHEMIAN. 

Chces li tajiiou vee aneb pravdu vyzvM6ti 
Blazen, dit6 opily clov^k o torn umeji povodeti. 

Wouldst thou know a truth or mystery, 
A drunkard, fool, or child may toll it thee 

BOHEMIAN PEOVBKB 

And now I '11 wrap my blanket o'er me, 

And on the tavern floor I '11 lie, 
A double spirit-flask before me, 

And watch my pipe clouds, melting, die. 

They melt and die, but ever darken 

As night comes on and hides the day, 
Till all is black ; then, brothers, hearken, 

And if ye can write down my lay. 

In yon long loaf my knife is gleaming, 

Like one black sail above the boat ; 
As once at Pesth I saw it beaming, 

Half through a dark Croatian throat. 

Now faster, faster, whirls the ceiling, 

And wilder, wilder, turns my brain ; 
And still I '11 drink, till, past all feeling, 

My soul leaps forth to light again. 

Whence come these white girls wreathing round me ? 

Barushka ! long I thought thee dead ; 
Katchenka ! when these arms last bound thee 

Thou laid'st by Rajrad, cold as lead. 

And faster, faster, whirls the ceiling, 

And wilder, wilder, turns my brain ; 
And from afar a star comes stealing 

Straight at me o'er the death-black plain. 

Alas ! I sink. My spirits miss me. 

I swim, I shoot from shore to shore ! 
Klara! thou golden sister kiss me ! 

I rise I 'in safe I 'rn strong once more. 

And faster, faster, whirls the ceiling, 
And wilder, wilder, whirls my brain; 



86 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

The star ! it strikes my soul, revealing 
All life aiid light to me again. 



Against the waves f resli waves are dashing, 
Above the breeze fresh breezes blow; 

Through seas of light new light is flashing, 
And with them all I float and flow, 

Yet round me rings of fire are gleanJng, 
Pale rings of fire, wild eyes of death ! 

Why haunt me thus, awake or dreaming? 
Methought I left ye with my breath ! 

Ay, glare and stare, with life increasing, 
And leech-like eyebrows, arching in ; 

Be, if ye must, my fate unceasing, 
But never hope a fear to win. 

He who knows all may haunt the haunter, 
lie who fears naught hath conquered fate ; 

Who bears in silence quells the daunter, 
And makes his spoiler desolate. 

wondrous eyes, of star-like lustre, 

Ho\v have ye changed to guardian love ! 

Alas! when-, stars in myriads cluster, 
Ye vanish in the heaven above. 



I hear two bells so softly ringing; 

How sweet their silver voices roll ! 
The one on distant hills is ringing, 

The other peals within my soul. 

I hear two maidens gently talking, 

Bohemian maids, and fair to see: 
The one on distant hills is walking, 

The other maiden, where is she ? 

Where is she ? When the moonlight glistens 

O'er silent lake, or inunnurin^ stream, 
I hear her call my soul, which listens, 
" Oh, wake no more ! Come, lovo, and dream ! '* 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 87 

She came to earth, earth's loveliest creature; 

She died, and then was born once more ; 
Changed was her race, and changed each feature, 

But yet I loved her as before. 

We live, but still, when night has bound me 

In golden dreams too sweet to last, 
A wondrous light-blue world around me, 

She comes, the loved one of the past. 

I know not which I love the dearest, 

For both the loves are still the same : 
The living to my life is nearest, 

The dead one feeds the living flame. 

And when the sun, its rose-wine quaffing, 

Which flows across the Eastern deep, 
Awakes us, Klara chides me, laughing, 

And says we love too well in sleep. 

And though no more a Voivode's daughter, 

As when she lived on earth before, 
The love is still the same which sought her, 

And I am true, and ask no more. 



Bright moonbeams on the sea are playing, 
And starlight shines upon the hill, 

And I should wake, but still delaying 
In our old life I linger still. 

For as the wind clouds flit above me, 
And as the stars above them shine, 

My higher life J s in those who love me, 
And higher still, our life 's divine. 

And thus I raise my soul by drinking, 

As on the tavern floor I lie ; 
It heeds not whence begins our thinking 

If to the end its flight is high. 

E'en outcasts may have heart and feeling, 
The blackest wild Tsigan be true, 

And love, like light in dungeons stealing, 
Though bars be there, will still burst through, 



88 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

It is the reecho of more than one song of those 
strange lands, of more than one voice, and of many a 
melody ; and those who have heard them, though not 
more distinctly than Francois Villon when he spoke of 
flinging the question back by silent lake and streamlet 
lone, will understand me, and say it is true to nature. 

In a late work on Magyarland, by a lady Fellow 
of the Carpathian Society, I find more on Hungarian 
gypsy music, which is so well written that I quote 
fully from it, being of the opinion that one ought, 
when setting forth any subject, to give quite as good 
an opportunity to others who are in our business as 
to ourselves. And truly this lady has felt the charm 
of the Tsigan music and describes it so well that one 
wishes she were a Romany in language and by adop- 
tion, like unto a dozen dames and damsels whom I 
know. 

" The Magyars have a perfect passion for this 
gypsy music, and there is nothing that appeals so 
powerfully to their emotions, whether of joy or sor- 
row. These singular musicians are, as a rule, well 
taught, and can play almost any music, greatly pre- 
ferring, however, their own compositions. Their mu- 
sic, consequently, is highly characteristic. It is the 
language of their lives and strange surroundings, a 
wild, weird banshee music : now all joy and sparkle, 
like sunshine on the plains ; now sullen, sad, and pa- 
thetic by turns, like the wail of a crushed and op- 
pressed people, an echo, it is said, of the minstrelsy 
of the hegedosok or Hungarian bards, but sounding 
to our ears like the more distant echo of that exceed- 
ing bitter cry, uttered long centuries ago by their 
forefathers under Egyptian bondage, and borne over 
Che time-waves of thousands of years, breaking forth 
in their music of to-day." 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 89 

Here I interrupt the lady with all due courtesy 
to remark that I cannot agree with her, nor with 
her probable authority, Walter Simson, in believing 
that the gypsies are the descendants of the mixed 
races who followed Moses out of Egypt. The Rom in 
Egypt is a Hindoo stranger now, as he ever was. But 
that the echo of centuries of outlawry and wretched- 
ness and wildness rises and falls, like the ineffable 
discord in a wind-harp, in Romany airs is true enough, 
whatever its origin may have been. But I beg par- 
don, madam, I interrupted you. 

" The soul-stirring, madly exciting, and martial 
strains of the Racoczys one of the Revolutionary 
airs has just died upon the ear. A brief interval 
of rest has passed. Now listen with bated breath to 
that recitative in the minor key, that passionate 
wail, that touching story, the gypsies' own music, 
which rises and falls on the air. Knives and forks 
are set down, hands and arms hang listless, all the 
seeming necessities of the moment being either sus- 
pended or forgotten, merged in the memories which 
those vibrations, so akin to human language, reawaken 
in each heart. Eyes involuntarily fill with tears, as 
those pathetic strains echo back and make present 
some sorrow of long ago, or rouse from slumber that 
of recent time. . . . 

" And now, the recitative being ended, and the last 
chord struck, the melody begins, of which the former 
was the prelude. Watch the movements of the supple 
figure of the first violin, standing in the centre of the 
other musicians, who accompany him softly. How 
every nerve is en rapport with his instrument, and 
how his very soul is speaking through it ! See how 
gently he draws the bow across the trembli ng strings, 



90 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

and how lovingly he lays his cheek upon it, as if list- 
ening to some responsive echo of his heart's inmost 
feeling, for it is his mystic language ! How the in- 
strument lives and answers to his every touch, send- 
ing forth in turn utterances tender, sad, wild,, and 
joyous ! The audience once more hold their breath 
to catch the dying tones, as the melody, so rich, so 
beautiful, so full of pathos, is drawing to a close. The 
tension is absolutely painful as the gypsy dwells on 
the last lingering note, and it is a relief when, with a 
loud and general burst of sound, every performer 
starts into life and motion. Then what crude and 
wild dissonances are made to resolve themselves into 
delicious harmony ! What rapturous and fervid 
pi i rases, and what energy and impetuosity, are there 
in every motion of the gypsies' figures, as their dark 
eyes glisten and emit flashes in unison with the 
tones ! " 

The writer is gifted in giving words to gypsy mu- 
sic. One cannot say, as the inexhaustible Cad writes 
of Niagara ten times on a page in the Visitors' Book, 
that it is indescribable. I think that if language 
means anything this music has been very well de- 
scribed by the writers whom 1 have cited. When I 
am told that the gypsies' impetuous and passionate 
natures make them enter into musical action with 
heart and soul, I feel not only the strains played long 
but also hear therein the horns of Elfland blow- 
ing, which he who has not; heard, of summer days, 
in the drone of the bee, by reedy rustling stream, 
will never know on earth in any wise. But once 
heard it comes ever, as I, though in the ciy, heard 
it last night in the winter wind, with Romany words 
mingled in wild refrain : 

" Kamava lute, miri chelladi I " 



II. 

AUSTRIAN GYPSIES IN PHILADELI HIA. 

IT was a sunny Sunday afternoon, and I was walk- 
ing down Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, when I met 
with three very dark men. 

Dark men are not rarities in my native city. There 
is, for instance, Eugene, who has the invaluable fac- 
ulty of being able to turn his hand to an infinite 
helpfulness in the small arts. These men were 
darker than Eugene, but they differed from him in 
this, that while he is a man of color, they were not. 
For in America the man of Aryan blood, however 
dark he may be, is always " off " color, while the 
lightest-hued quadroon is always on it. Which is 
not the only paradox connected with the descendants 
of Africans of which I have heard. 

I saw at a glance that these dark men were much 
nearer to the old Aryan stock than are even my 
purely white readers. For they were more recently 
from India, and they could speak a language abound- 
ing in Hindi, in pure old Sanskrit, and in Persian. 
Yet they would make no display of it ; on the con- 
trary, I knew that they would be very likely at first 
to deny all knowledge thereof, as well as their race 
and blood. For they were gypsies ; it was very 
apparent in their eyes, which had the Gitano gleam 
as one seldom sees it in England. I confess that I 
experienced a thrill aa I exchanged glances with 



92 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

them. It was a long time since I had seen a Rom 
any, and, as usual, I knew that I was going to as- 
tonish them. They were singularly attired, having 
very good clothes of a quite theatrical foreign fash- 
ion, bearing silver buttons as large as and of the 
shape of hen's eggs. Their hair hung in black ring- 
lets down their shoulders, and I saw that they had 
come from the Austrian Slavonian land. 

I addressed the eldest in Italian. He answered 
fluently and politely. I changed to Ilirski or Illyr- 
ian and to Serb, of which I have a few phrases in 
stock. They spoke all these languages fluently, for 
one was a born Illyrian and one a Serb. They also 
spoke Nemetz, or German ; in fact, everything ex- 
cept English. 

" Have you got through all your languages ? " I ab 
last inquired. 

" Tutte, signore, all of them." 

" Is n't there one left behind, which you have for- 
gotten ? Think a minute." 

" No, signore. None." 

" What, not one ! You know so many that per- 
haps a language more or less makes no difference to 
you." 

" By the Lord, signore, you have seen every egg 
in the basket." 

I looked him fixedly in the eyes, and said, in a low 
tone, 

"Ne raJcesa tu Romanes miro prala ?" 

There was a startled glance from one to the other, 
vnd a silence. I had asked him if he could not talk 
Romany. And I added, 

" Won't you talk a word with a gypsy brother ? " 

That moved them. They all shook my hands with 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 93 

great feeling, expressing intense joy and amazement 
at meeting with one who knew them. 

" Mishto horn me dikava tute." (I am glad to seo 
you.) So they told me how they were getting on, and 
where they were camped, and how they sold horses, 
and so on, and we might have got on much farther 
had it not been for a very annoying interruption. As 
I was talking to the gypsies, a great number of men, 
attracted by the sound of a foreign language, stopped, 
and fairly pushed themselves up to us, endeavoring 
to make it all out. When there were at least fifty, 
they crowded in between me and the foreigners, so 
that I could hardly talk to them. The crowd did 
not consist of ordinary people, or snobs. They were 
well dressed, young clerks, at least, who would 
have fiercely resented being told that they were im- 
pertinent. 

" Eye-talians, ain't they ? " inquired one man, who 
was evidently zealous in pursuit of knowledge. 
" Why don't you tell us what they are sayin' ? " 
" What kind of fellers air they, any way ? " 
I was desirous of going with the Hungarian Horns. 
But to walk along Chestnut Street with an augment- 
ing procession of fifty curious Sunday promenaders 
was not on my card. In fact, I had some difficulty 
in tearing myself from the inquisitive, questioning, 
well-dressed people. The gypsies bore the pressure 
with the serene equanimity of cosmopolite superiority, 
smiling at provincial rawness. Even so in China and 
Africa the traveler is mobbed by the many, who, 
ihere as here, think that " I want to know " is full 
excuse for all intrusiveness. C'est tout comme chez 
nous. I confess that I was vexed, and, considering 
that it was in my native city, mortified. 



94 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES 

A few days after I went out to the tan where 
these Roms hud camped. But the-birds had flown, 
and a little pile of ashes and the usual debris of a 
gypsy camp were all that remained. The police told 
me that they had some very fine horses, and had gone 
to the Northwest ; and that is all I ever saw of them. 

I have heard of a philanthropist who was turned 
into a misanthrope by attempting to sketch in public 
and in galleries. Respectable strangers, even clergy- 
men, would stop and coolly look over his shoulder, 
and ask questions, and give him advice, until he could 
work no longer. Why is it that people who would 
not speak to you for life without an introduction 
should think that their small curiosity to see your 
sketches authorizes them to act as aquaintances ? 
Or why is the pursuit of knowledge assumed among 
the half-bred to be an excuse for so much intrusion ? 
"I want to know." Well, and what if you do? The 
man who thinks that his desire for knowledge is an 
excuse for impertinence and there are too many who 
act on this in all sincerity is of the kind who knocks 
the fingers off statues, because " he wants them " 
for his collection ; who chips away tombstones, and 
hews down historic trees, and not infrequently steals 
outright, and thinks that his pretense of culture is 
full excuse for all his mean deeds. Of this tribe is 
the man who cuts his name on all walls and smears 
it on the pyramids, to proclaim himself a fool to the 
world; the difference being that, instead of wanting 
to know anything, he wants everybody to know that 
His Littleness was once in a great place. 

I knew a distinguished artist, who, while in the 
East, only secured his best sketch of a landscape by 
employing fifty men to keep off the multitude. 1 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 95 

have seen a strange fellow take a lady's sketch out 
of her hand, excusing himself with the remark that 
he was so fond of pictures. Of course my readers 
do not act thus. When they are passing through the 
Louvre or British Museum they never pause and 
overlook artists, despite the notices requesting them 
not to do so. Of course not. Yet I once knew a 
charming young American lady, who scouted the idea 
as nonsense that she should not watch artists at 
work. " Why, we used to make up parties for the 
purpose of looking at them ! " she said. " It was half 
the fun of going there. I 'in sure the artists were 
delighted to get a chance to talk to us." Doubtless. 
And yet there are really very few artists who do 
not work more at their ease when not watched, and 
I have known some to whom such watching was mis- 
ery. They are not, O intruder, painting for your 
amusement ! 

This is not such a far cry from my Romanys as 
it may seem. When I think of what I have lost in 
this life by impertinence coming between me and 
gypsies, I feel that it could not be avoided. The 
proportion of men, even of gentlemen, or of those 
who dress decently, who cannot see another well- 
dressed man talking with a very poor one in public, 
without at once surmising a mystery, and endeavor- 
ing to solve it, is amazing. And they do not stop 
at a trifle, either. 

It is a marked characteristic of all gypsies that 
they are quite free from any such mean intrusive- 
ness. Whether it is because they themselves are 
continually treated as curiosities, or because great 
knowledge of life in a small way has made them 
philosophers, I will not say, but it is a fact that in 



96 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

this respect they are invariably the politest people in 
the world. Perhaps their calm contempt of the go- 
lerly, or green Gorgios, is founded on a consciousness 
of their superiority in this matter. 

The Hungarian gypsy differs from all his brethren 
of Europe in being more intensely gypsy. He has 
deeper, wilder, and more original feeling in music, 
and he is more inspired with a love of travel. Num- 
bers of Hungarian Romany chals in which I in- 
clude all Austrian gypsies travel annually all over 
Europe, but return as regularly to their own country. 
I have met with them exhibiting bears in Badeii- 
Baden. These Ricinari, or bear-leaders, form, how- 
ever, a set within a set, and are in fact more nearly 
allied to the gypsy bear-leaders of Turkey and Syria 
than to any other of their own people. They are 
wild and rude to a proverb, and generally speak a 
peculiar dialect of Romany, which is called the Bear- 
leaders' by philologists. I have also seen Syrian- 
gypsy Ricinari in Cairo. Many of the better caste 
make a great deal of money, and some are rich. Like 
all really pure-blooded gypsies, they have deep feel- 
ings, which are easily awakened by kindness, but es- 
pecially by sympathy and interest. 



ENGLISH GYPSIES. 



I. 



OATLANDS PABK. 

OATLANDS PARK (between Weybridge and Wal- 
ton-upon-Thames) was once the property of the Duke 
of York, but now the lordly manor-house is a hotel. 
The grounds about it are well preserved and very 
picturesque. They should look well, for they cover 
a vast and wasted fortune. There is, for instance, 
a grotto which cost forty thousand pounds. It is 
one of those wretched and tasteless masses of silly 
rock-rococo work which were so much admired at the 
beginning of the present century, when sham ruins 
and sham caverns were preferred to real. There is, 
also, close by the grotto, a dogs' burial-ground, in 
which more than a hundred animals, the favorites of 
the late duchess, lie buried. Over each is a tomb- 
stone, inscribed with a rhyming epitaph, written by 
the titled lady herself, and which is in sober sadness 
in every instance doggerel, as befits the subject. In 
order to degrade the associations of religion and 
church rites as effectually as possible, there is at- 
tached to these graves the semblance of a ruined 
chapel, the stained-glass window of which was taken 
from a church. 1 I confess that I could never see either 

i Within a mile, Maginu lies buried, without a monument. 



98 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

grotto or grave -yard without sincerely wishing, out of 
regard to the memory of both duke and duchess, that 
these ridiculous relics of vulgar taste and affected 
sentimentalism could be completely obliterated. But, 
apart from them, the scenes around are very beauti- 
ful ; for there are grassy slopes and pleasant lawns, 
ancient trees and broad gravel walks, over which, as 
the dry leaves fall on the crisp sunny morning, the 
feet are tempted to walk on and on, all through the 
merry golden autumn day. 

The neighborhood abounds in memories of olden 
time. Near Oatlands is a modernized house, in which 
Henry the Eighth lived in his youth. It belonged 
then to Cardinal Wolsey; now it is owned by Mr. 
Lindsay, a sufficient cause for wits calling it Lind- 
say- Wolsey, that being also a " fabric." Within an 
hour's walk is the palace built by Cardinal Wolsey, 
while over the river, and visible from the portico, is 
the little old Gothic church of Shepperton, and in the 
same view, to the right, is the old Walton Bridge, 
by Cowie Stages, supposed to cover Ihe exact spot 
where Cresar crossed. This has been denied by many, 
but I know that the field adjacent to it abounds in an- 
cient British jars filled with burned bones, the relics 
of an ancient battle, probably that which legend 
States was fought on the neighboring Rattle Island. 
Stout-hearted Queen Bessy has also left her mark on 
this neighborhood, for within a, mile is the old Saxon- 
towered church of Walton, in which the royal dame 
was asked for her opinion of the sacrament when it 
Was given to her, to which she replied : 

"Christ \v;i* tin; Word \v]io spake it, 
H<; took tlio broad mid hrnkf it; 
And what that Word did in;ike it, 
That I believe, and take it." 



OATLANDS PARK. 99 

In memory of this the lines were inscribed on the 
massy Norman pillar by which she stood. From the 
style and cutting it is evident that the inscription 
dates from the reign of Elizabeth. And very near 
Oatlands, in fact on the grounds, there are two an- 
cient yew-trees, several hundred yards apart. The 
story runs that Queen Elizabeth once drew a long 
bow and shot an arrow so far that, to commemo- 
rate the deed, one of these trees was planted where 
she stood, and the other where the shaft fell. All 
England is a museum of touching or quaint relics ; to 
me one of its most interesting cabinets is this of 
the neighborhood of Weybridge and Walton-upou- 
Thames. 

I once lived for eight months at Oatlands Park, 
and learned to know the neighborhood well. I had 
many friends among the families in the vicinity, and, 
guided by their advice, wandered to every old church 
and manor-house, ruin and haunted rock, fairy-oak, 
tower, palace, or shrine within a day's ramble. But 
there was one afternoon walk of four miles, round by 
the river, which I seldom missed. It led by a spot 
on the bank, and an old willow-tree near the bridge, 
which spot was greatly haunted by the Romany, so 
that, excepting during the hopping-season of autumn, 
when they were away in Kent, I seldom failed to see 
from afar a light rising smoke, and near it a tent and 
a van, as the evening shadows blended with the mist 
from the river in phantom union. 

It is a common part of gypsy life that the father 
shall be away all day, lounging about the next vil- 
lage, possibly in the Mtchema or ale-house, or try- 
ing to trade a horse, while the wife trudges over the 
country, from one farm-house or cottage to another, 



100 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

loaded with baskets, household utensils, toys, or cheap 
ornaments, which she endeavors, like a true Autolyca, 
with wily arts and wheedling tones, to sell to the rus- 
tics. When it can be managed, this hawking is often 
an introduction to fortune-telling, and if these fail the 
gypsy has recourse to begging. But it is a weary life, 
and the poor dye is always glad enough to get home. 
During the day the children have been left to look 
out for themselves or to the care of the eldest, and 
have tumbled about the van, rolled around with the 
dog, and fought or frolicked as they chose. But 
though their parents often have a stock of cheap toys, 
especially of penny dolls and the like, which they 
put up as prizes for games at races and fairs, I have 
never seen these children with playthings. The lit- 
tle girls have no dolls ; the boys, indeed, affect whips, 
as becomes incipient jockeys, but on the whole they 
never seemed to me to have the same ideas as to play 
as ordinary house-children. The author of " My In- 
dian Garden " has made the same observation of Hin- 
doo little ones, whose ways are not as our ways were 
when we were young. Roman and Egyptian children 
had their dolls ; and there is something sadly sweef 
to me in the sight of these barbarous and naive fac- 
similes of miniature humanity, which come up like 
little spectres out of the dust of ancient days. They 
%re so rude and queer, these Roman puppets; and yet 
they were loved once, and had pet names, and their 
owl-like faces were as tenderly kissed as their little 
mistresses had been by their mothers. So the Romany 
girl, unlike the Roman, is generally doll-less and toy- 
less. But the affection between mother and child is 
as warm among these wanderers as with .any other 
people ; and it is a touching sight to see the gypsy wha 



OATLANDS PARK. 101 

has been absent all the weary day returning home. 
And when she is seen from afar off there is a race 
among all the little 'dark-brown things to run to 
mother and get kissed, and cluster and scramble 
around her, and perhaps receive some little gift which 
mother's thoughtful love has provided. Knowing 
these customs, I was wont to fill my pockets with 
chestnuts or oranges, and, distributing them among 
the little' ones, talk with them, and await the sunset 
return of their parents. The* confidence or love of 
all children is delightful ; but that of gypsy children 
resembles the friendship of young foxes, arid the 
study of their artless-artful ways is indeed attractive. 

I can remember that one afternoon six' small Rom- 
any boys implored me to give them each a penny. 
I replied, 

" If I had sixpence, how would you divide it ? " 

" That would be a penny apiece," said the eldest 
boy. 

" And if threepence ? " 

"A ha'penny apiece." 

" And three ha'pence ? " 

" A farden all round. And then it could n't go no 
furder, unless we bought tobacco an' diwided it." 

" Well, I have some tobacco. But can any of you 
smoke ? " 

They were from four to ten years of age, and at 
he word every one pulled out the stump of a black- 
ened pipe, such depraved-looking fragments I never 
saw, and holding them all up, and crowding closely 
around, like hungry poultry with uplifted bills, they 
began to clamor for tilvalo, or tobacco. They were 
connoisseurs, too, and the elder boy. as he secured 
his share, smelled it with intense satisfaction, and 



102 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

said, "That 's rye's tuvalo ;" that is, "gentleman's 
tobacco," or best quality. 

One evening, as the shadows were darkening the 
day, T met a little gypsy boy, dragging along, with 
incredible labor, a sack full of wood, which one needed 
not go far afield to surmise was neither purchased 
nor begged. The alarmed and guilty or despairing 
look which he cast at me was very touching. Perhaps 
he thought I was the gentleman upon whose prop- 
erty he had "found" the wood ; or else a magistrate. 
How he stared when I spoke to him in Romany, and 
offered to help him carry it ! As we bore it along I 
suggested that we had better be careful and avoid the 
police, which remark established perfect confidence 
between us. But as we came to the tent, what was 
the amazement of the boy's mother to see him re- 
turning with a gentleman helping him to carry his 
load ! And to hear me say in Romany, and in a 
cheerful tone, " Mother, here is some wood we 've 
been stealing for you." 

Gypsies have strong nerves and much cheek, but 
this was beyond her endowment ; she was appalled 
at the unearthly strangeness of the whole proceeding, 
and when she spoke there was a skeleton rattle in 
her words and a quaver of startled ghastliness in her 
laugh. She had been alarnuxl for her boy, and when 
I appeared she thought I was a swell bringing him 
in under arrest; but when I announced myself in 
Romany as an accomplice, emotion stifled thought. 
And I lingered not, and spoke no more, but walked 
away into the woods and the darkness. However, the 
legend went forth on the roads, even unto Kingston, 
and was told among the rollicking Romanys of 'Appy 
Anipton ; for there are always a merry, loafing lot 



OATLANDS PARK. 103 

of them about that festive spot, looking out for excur- 
sionists through the months when the gorse blooms, 
and kissing is in season which is always. And lie 
who seeks them on Sunday may find them camped in 
Green Lane. 

When I wished for a long ramble on the hedge- 
lined roads the sweet roads of old England and 
by the green fields, I was wont to take a day's walk 
to Netley Abbey. Then I could pause, as I went, 
before many a quiet, sheltered spot, adorned with 
arbors and green alleys, and protected by trees and 
hawthorn hedges, and again surrender my soul, while 
walking, to tender and vague reveries, in which all 
definite thoughts swim overpowered, yet happy, in 
a sea of voluptuous emotions inspired by clouds lost 
in the blue sea of heaven and valleys visioned away 
into the purple sky. What opium is to one, what 
hasheesh may be to another, what kheyf or mere re- 
pose concentrated into actuality is to the Arab, that 
is Nature to him who has followed her for long years 
through poets and mystics and in works of art, until 
at last he pierces through dreams and pictures to 
reality. 

The ruins of Netley Abbey, nine or ten miles from 
Oatlands Park, are picturesque and lonely, and well 
fitted for the dream-artist in shadows among sun- 
hine. The priory was called Newstead or De Novo 
Loco in Norman times, when it was founded by 
Ruald de Calva, in the clay of Richard Cceur de . 
Lion. The ruins rise gray, white, and undressed 
with ivy, that they may contrast the more vividly 
with the deep emerald of the meadows around. " The 
.unrounding scenery is composed of rivers and rivu- 
lets," for seven streams run by it, according to Au- 



104 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

brey, " of foot-bridge and fords, plashy pools and 
fringed, tangled hollows, trees in groups or alone, and 
cattle dotted over the pastures : " an English Cuyp 
from many points of view, beautiful and English- 
home-like from all. Very near it is the quaint, out- 
of-the-way, darling little old church of Pirford, up a 
hill, nestling among trees, a half-Norman, decorated 
beauty, out of the age, but altogether in the heart. 
As I came near, of a summer afternoon, the waving of 
leaves and the buzzing of bees without, and the hum 
of the voices of children at school within the adjoin- 
ing building, the cool shade and the beautiful view of 
the ruined Abbey beyond, made an impression which 
I can never forget. Among such scenes one learns 
why the English love so heartily their rural life, 
and why every object peculiar to it has brought forth 
a picture or a poem. I can imagine how many a 
man, who has never known what poetry was at home, 
has wept with yearning inexpressible, when sitting 
among burning sands and under the palms of the 
East, for such scenes as these. 

But Netley Abbey is close by the river Wey, and 
the sight of that river and the thought of the story 
of the monks of the olden time who dwelt in the 
Abbey drive away sentiment as suddenly as a north 
wind scatters sea-fogs. For the legend is a merry 
one, and the reader may have heard it ; but if he has 
not I will give it in one of the merriest ballads ever 
written. By whom I know not, doubtless many 
know. I sing, while walking, songs of olden time. 



OATLANDS PARK. 105 



THE MONKS OF THE WEY. 

1 TRUE AND IMPORTANT RELATION OF THE WONDERFUL TUW- 
NELL OF NEWARKE AI5HKY AND OF THE UNTIMELY ENDE O 
8KVKHALL OF YE GHOSTLY BRETHREN. 

The monks of the Wey seldom sung any psalms, 
And little they thought of religion or qualms ; 
Such rollicking, frolicking, ranting, and gay, 
And jolly old boys were the monks of the Wey. 

To the sweet nuns of Ockhara devoting their cares, 
They had little time for their beads and their prayers ; 
For the love of these maidens they sighed night and day, 
And neglected devotion, these monks of the Wey. 

And happy i' faith might these brothers have been 
If the river had never been rolling between 
The abbey so grand and the convent so gray, 
That stood on the opposite side of the Wey. 

For daily they sighed, and then nightly they pined, 
But little to anchorite precepts inclined, 
So smitten with beauty's enchantments were they, 
These rollicking, frolicking monks of the Wey. 

But scandal was rife in the country near, 
They dared not row over the river for fear ; 
And no more could they swim it, so fat were they, 
These oily and amorous monks of the Wey. 

Loudly they groaned for their fate so hard, 
From the love of these beautiful maidens debarred, 
Till a brother just hit on a plan which would stay 
The woe of these heart-broken monks of the Wey. 

Nothing," quoth he, " should true love sunder ; 
Since we cannot go over, then let us go under ! 
Boats and bridges shall yield to clay, 
We '11 dig a long tunnel clean under the Wey." 

So to it they went with right good will, 
With spade nnd shovel and pike and bill; 



106 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

And from evening's close till the dawn of day 
They worked like miners all under the Wey. 

And at vesper hour, as their work begun, 
Kach sung of the charms of his favorite nun ; 
" How surprised they will bo, and how h;ipj>y ! " said they, 
" When we pop in upon them from under the Wey ! '" 

And for months they kept grubbing and making no sound 
Like other black moles, darkly under the ground ; 
And no one suspected such going astray, 
So sly were these mischievous monks of the Wey. 

At last their fine work was brought near to a close 
And early one morn from their pallets they rose, 
And met in their tunnel with lights to survey 
If they 'd scooped a free passage right under the Wey. 

But alas for their fate! As they smirked and they smiled. 

To think how completely the world was beguiled, 

The river broke in, and it grieves me to say 

It drowned all the frolicksome monks of the Wey. 



O churchmen beware of the lures of the flesh, 
The net of the devil has many a mesh ! 
And remember whenever you 're tempted to stray, 
The fate that befell the poor monks of the Wey. 

It was all long ago, and now there are neither 
monks nor nuns ; the convent has been converted, 
little by little, age by age, into cottages, even as the 
friars and nuns themselves may have been organically 
changed possibly into violets, but more probably into 
the festive sparrows which flit and hop and flirt about 
the ruins with abrupt startles, like pheasants sudden 
bursting on the wing. There is a pretty little Latin 
epigram, written by a gay monk, of a pretty little 
lady, who, being very amorous, and observing that 
sparrows were like her as to love, hoped that sne 
might be turned into one after death ; and it is not 



OAT LANDS PARK. 107 

difficult for a dreamer in an old abbey, of a golden 
day to fancy that those merry, saucy birdies, who 
dart and dip in and out of the sunshine or shadow, 
chirping their shameless ditties pro et con, were once 
the human dwellers in the spot, who sang their gau- 
drioles to pleasant strains. 

I became familiar with many such scenes for many 
miles about Oatlands, not merely during solitary 
walks, but by availing myself of the kind invitations 
of many friends, and by hunting afoot with the bea- 
gles. In this fashion one has hare and hound, but 
no horse. It is not needed, for while going over crisp 
stubble and velvet turf, climbing fences and jump- 
ing ditches, a man has a keen sense of being his own 
horse, and when he accomplishes a good leap of being 
intrinsically well worth 200. And indeed, so long 
as anybody can walk day in and out a greater dis- 
tance than would tire a horse, he may well believe 
he is really worth one. It may be a good thing for 
us to reflect on the fact that if slavery prevailed at 
the present day as it did among the polished Greeks 
the average price of young gentlemen, and even of 
young ladies, would not be more than what is paid 
for a good hunter. Divested of diamonds and of 
Worth's dresses, what would a girl of average charms 
be worth to a stranger ? Let us reflect ! 

It was an October morning, and, pausing after a 
tun, I let the pack and the "course-men " sweep 
away, while I sat in a pleasant spot to enjoy the air 
and scenery. The solemn grandeur of groves and 
the quiet dignity of woodland glades, barred with 
rays of solid-seeming sunshine, such as the saint of 
old hung his cloak on, the brook into which the over- 
hanging chestnuts drop, as if in sport, their creamy 



108 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

golden little boats of leaves, never seem so beautiful 
or impressive as immediately after a rush and cry of 
many men, succeeded by solitude and silence. Little 
by little the bay of the hounds, the shouts of the 
hunters, and the occasional sound of the horn grew 
fainter ; the birds once more appeared, and sent forth 
short calls to their timid friends. I began again 
to notice who my neighbors were, as to daisies and 
heather which resided around the stone on which I 
sat, and the exclusive circle of a fairy-ring at a little 
distance, which, like many exclusive circles, consisted 
entirely of mushrooms. 

As the beagle-sound died away, and while the hounds 
were " working around " to the road, I heard footsteps 
approaching, and looking up saw before me a gypsy 
woman and a boy. She was a very gypsy woman, 
an ideal witch, nut-brown, tangle-haired, aquiline of 
nose, and fierce-eyed ; and fiercely did she beg ! As 
amid broken Gothic ruins, overhung with unkempt 
ivy, one can trace a vanished and strange beauty, so 
in this worn face of the Romany, mantled by neglected 
tresses, I could see the remains of what must have 
been once a wonderful though wild loveliness. As I 
looked into those serpent eyes, trained for a long life 
to fascinate in fortune-telling simple dove-girls, I 
could readily understand the implicit faith with which 
many writers in the olden time spoke of the "fasci- 
nation" peculiar to female glances. " The multipli- 
cation of women," said the rabbis, " is the increase 
of witches," for the belles in Israel were killing girls, 
with arrows, the bows whereof are formed by pairs of 
jet-black eyebrows joined in one. And thus it was 
that these black-eyed beauties, by mashing 1 men for 

1 Mashing, a word of gypsy origin (mashdva), meaning fascination 
Dy the eye, or taking in. 



OATLANDS PARK. 109 

many generations, with shafts shot sideways and 
most wantonly, at last sealed their souls into the cor- 
ner of their eyes, as you have heard before. Cotton 
Mather tells us that these witches with peaked eye- 
corners could never weep but three tears out of their 
long-tailed eyes. And I have observed that such 
tears, as they sweep down the cheeks of the brunette 
witches, are also long-tailed, and recall by their shape 
and glitter the eyes from which they fell, even as 
the daughter recalls the mother. For all love's witch- 
craft lurks in flashing eyes, Ionian del oocJiio Ionian 
daV cuor. 

It is a great pity that the pigeon-eye-peaks, so 
pretty in young witches, become in the old ones 
crow's-feet and crafty. When I greeted the woman, 
she answered in Roman}'-, and said she was a Stan- 
ley from the North. She lied bravely, and I told her 
so. It made no difference in any way, nor was she 
hurt. The brown boy, who seemed like a goblin, 
umber-colored fungus, growing by a snaky black wild 
vine, sat by her and stared at me. I was pleased, 
when he said tober, that she corrected him, exclaim- 
ing earnestly, " Never say tober for road; that is cant- 
ing. Always say drom ; that is good Romanes." 
There is always a way of bringing up a child in the 
way he should go, though it be a gypsy one, and 
drom comes from the Greek dromos, which is elegant 
and classical. Then she began to beg again, to pass 
the time, and I lectured her severely on the sin and 
meanness of her conduct, and said, with bitterness, 
" Do dogs eat dogs, or are all the Gorgios dead in 
the land, that you cry for money to me ? Oh, you 
are a fine Stanley ! a nice Heshaley you, to sing 
tnumpin and mongerin, when a half-blood Matthews 



110 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

has too much decency to trouble the rye ! Ami how 
much will you take? Whatever the gentleman 
pleases, and thank you, my kind sir, and the bless- 
ings of the poor gypsy woman on yom Yes, I know 
that, yivellii you mother of all the liars. You expect 
a sixpence, and here it is, and may you get drunk on 
the money, and be well thrashed by your man for 
it. And now see what I had in my hand all the time 
to give you. A lucky half crown, my deary; but 
that 's not for you now. I only give a sixpence to 
a beggar, but I stand a pash-korauna to any Romany 
who 's a pal and amal." 

This pleasing discourse made us very good friends, 
and, as I kept my eyes sharply fixed on her viper 
orbs with an air of intense suspicion, everything like 
ill-feeling or distrust naturally vanished from her 
mind ; for it is of the nature of the Romany s and all 
their kind to like those whom they respect, and re- 
spect those whom they cannot deceive, and to meas- 
ure mankind exactly by their capacity of being taken 
in, (^specially by themselves. As is also the- case, in 
good society, with many ladies and some gentlemen, 
and much good may it do them ! 

There was a brief silence, during which the boy 
Btill looked wistfully into my face, as if wondering 
what kind of gentleman I might be, until his mother 
said, 

" How do you do with them ryas [swells] ? What 
do you tell 'em about what do they think 
you know ? " 

This was not explicit, but I understood it perfectly. 
There, is a great deal of such loose, disjointed con- 
versation among gypsies and other half -thinkers. An 
educated man requires, or pretends to himself to re- 



OATLANDS PARK. Ill 

quire, a most accurately-detailed and form-polished 
statement of anything to understand it. The gypsy 
is less exacting. I have observed among rural 
Americans much of this lottery style of conversation, 
in which one man invests in a dubious question, not 
knowing exactly what sort of a prize or blank answer 
he may draw. What the gypsy meant effectively 
was, " How do you account to the Gorgios for know- 
ing so much about us, and talking with us? Our life 
is as different from yours as possible, and you never 
acquired such a knowledge of all our tricky ways as 
you have just shown without much experience of us 
and a double life. You are related to us in some 
way, and you deceive the Gorgios about it. What 
is your little game of life, on general principles ? " 

For the gypsy is so little accustomed to having any 
congenial interest taken in him that he can clearly 
explain it only by consanguinity. And as I was 
questioned, so I answered, 

" Well, I tell them I like to learn languages, and 
am trying to learn yours ; and then I 'm a foreigner 
in the country, anyhow, and they don't know my 
droms [ways], and they don't care much what I do, 
don't you see ? " 

This was perfectly satisfactory, and as the hounds 
came sweeping round the corner of the wood she rose 
and went her way, and I saw her growing less and 
less along the winding road and up the hill, till she 
disappeared, with her boy, in a small ale-house. 
" Bang went the sixpence." 

When the last red light was in the west I went 
down to the river, and as I paused, and looked alter- 
nately at the stars reflected and flickering in the 
water and at the lights in the little gypsy camp, 



112 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

I thought that as the dancing, restless, and broken 
sparkles were to their serene types above, such were 
the wandering and wild Romany to the men of cult- 
ure in their settled homes. It is from the house- 
dweller that the men of the roads and commons 
draw the elements of their life, but in that life they 
are as shaken and confused as the starlight in the 
rippling river. But if we look through our own life 
we find that it is not the gypsy alone who is merely 
a reflection and an imitation of the stars above him, 
and a creature of second-hand fashion. 

I found in the camp an old acquaintance, named 
Brown, and also perceived at the first greeting that 
the \voman Stanley had told Mrs. Brown that I would 
not be mongerdo, or begged from, and that the latter, 
proud of her power in extortion, and as yet invinci- 
ble in mendicancy, had boasted that she would suc- 
ceed, let others weakly fail. And to lose no time 
she went at me with an abruptness and dramatic 
earnestness which promptly betrayed the secret. And 
on the spot I made a vow that nothing should get a 
farthing from me, though I should be drawn by wild 
horses. And a horse was, indeed, brought into requi- 
sition to draw me, or my money, but without suc- 
cess ; for Mr. Brown, as I very well knew, it being 
just then the current topic in the best society on 
the road, had very recently been involved in a tan- 
gled trouble with a stolen horse. This horse had 
been figuratively laid at his door, even as a " love- 
babe " is sometimes placed on the front steps of a 
virtuous and grave citizen, at least, this is what 
White George averred, and his very innocence 
and purity had, like a shining mark, attracted the 
shafts of the wicked. He had come out unscathed, 



OATLANDS PARK. 113 

with a package of papers from a lawyer, which es-- 
tablished his character above par ; but all this had 
cost money, beautiful golden money, and brought 
him to the very brink of ruin ! Mrs. Brown's attack 
was a desperate and determined effort, and there was 
more at stake on its success than the reader may sur- 
mise. Among gypsy women skill in begging im- 
plies the possession of every talent which they most 
esteem, such as artfulness, cool effrontery, and the 
power of moving pity or provoking generosity by 
pique or humor. A quaint and racy book might be 
written, should it only set forth the manner in which 
the experienced matrons give straight-tips or sug- 
gestions to the maidens as to the manner and lore of 
begging ; and it is something worth hearing when 
several sit together and devise dodges, and tell anec- 
dotes illustrating the noble art of mendicity, and how 
it should be properly practiced. 

Mrs. Brown knew that to extort alms from me 
would place her on the pinnacle as an artist. 
Among all the Cooper clan, to which she was allied, 
there was not one who ever begged from me, they 
having all found that the ripest nuts are those which 
fall from the tree of their own accord, or are blown 
earthward by the soft breezes of benevolence, and 
not those which are violently beaten down. She 
began by pitiful appeals ; she was moving, but I did 
not budge. She grew pathetic ; she touched on the 
stolen horse ; she paused, and gushed almost to tears, 
as much as to say, If it must be, you shall know all. 
Ruin stared them in the face ; poverty was crushing 
them. It was well acted, rather in the Bernhardt 
style, which, if M. Ondit speaks the truth, is also 
employed rather extensively for acquiring " de mon- 

8 



114 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

isli." I looked at the van, of which the Browns are 
proud, and inquired if it were true that it had been 
insured for a hundred pounds, as George had re- 
cently boasted. Persuasion having failed, Mrs. Brown 
tried bold defiance, saying that they needed no com- 
pany who were no good to them, and plainly said to 
me I might be gone. It was her last card, thinking 
that a threat to dissolve our acquaintance would 
drive me to capitulate, and it failed. I laughed, 
went into the van, sat down, took out my brandy 
flask, and then accepted some bread and ale, and, to 
please them, read aloud all the papers acquitting 
George from all guilt as concerned the stolen horse, 
papers which, he declared, had cost him full five 
pounds. This was a sad come-down from the story 
first told. Then I seriously rated his wife for beg- 
ging from me. " You know well enough," I said, 
"that I give all I can spare to your family and your 
people when they are sick or poor. And here you 
are, the richest Romanys on the road between Wind- 
sor and the Boro Gav, begging a friend, who knows 
all about you, for money! Now, here is a shilling. 
Take it. Have half a crown ? Two of 'em ! No ! 
Oh, you don't want it here in your own house. AVell, 
you have some decency left, and to save your credit 
I won't make you take it. And you scandalize me, 
a gentleman and a friend, just to show this tramp of 
a Stanley juva, who lias n't even got a dr;ig [wagon], 
that you can beat her a monger in nuwdy [begging 
me]." 

Mrs. Brown assented volubly to everything, and 
all the time I saw in her smiling eyes, ever auivein^ 
to all, and heard from her voluble lips nothing but 
the lie, that lie which is the mental action and 



OAT LANDS PARK. 115 

inmost grain of the Romany, and especially of the 
diddikai, or half-breed. Anything and everything 

trickery, wheedling or bullying, fawning or threat- 
ening, smiles, or rage, or tears for a sixpence. All 
day long flattering and tricking to tell fortunes or 
sell trifles, and all life one greasy lie, with ready 
frowns or smiles : as it was in India in the begin- 
ning, as it is in Europe, and as it will be in America, 
so long as there shall be a rambler on the roads, 
amen ! 

Sweet peace again established, Mrs. Brown became 
herself once more, and acted the hospitable hostess, 
exactly in the spirit and manner of any woman who 
has "a home of her own," and a spark of decent feel- 
ing in her heart. Like many actors, she was a bad 
lot on the boards, but a very nice person off them. 
Here in her rolling home she was neither a beggar 
nor poor, and she issued her orders grandly. " Boil 
some tea for the rye cook some coffee for the rye 

wait a few minutes, my darling gentleman, and I '11 
brile you a steak or here 's a fish, if you 'd like it?" 
But I declined everything except the. corner of a loaf 
and some ale; and all the time a little brown boy, with 
great black eyes, a perfect Murillo model, sat con- 
densed in wondrous narrow space by the fire, baking 
small apples between the bars of the grate, and roll- 
ing up his orbs at me as if wondering what could have 
brought me into such a circle, even as he had done 
that morning in the greenwood. 

Now if the reader would know what the interior of 
a gypsy van, or " drag," or wardo, is like, he may see 
it in the following diagram. 



ENGLISH GYPSIES. 




A is the door ; B is the bed, or rather two beds, 
each six feet long, like berths, with a vacant space 
below ; O is a grate cooking-stove ; D is a table, 
which hangs by hinges from the wall ; E is a chest 
of drawers; / and /are two chairs. The general ap- 
pearance of a well-kept van is that of a state-room. 
Brown's is a very good van, and quite clean. They 
are admirably well adapted for slow traveling, and it 
was in such vans, purchased from gypsies, that Sir 
Samuel Baker and his wife explored the whole of 
Cyprus. 

Mrs. Brown was proud of her van and of her little 
treasures. From the great recess under the bed she 
raked out as a rare curiosity an old Dolly Varden or 
damasked skirt, not at all worn, quite pretty, and evi- 
dently of considerable value to a collector. This 
had belonged to Mrs. Brown's grandmother, an old 
gypsy queen. And it may be observed, by the way, 
that the claims of every Irishman of every degree to 
be descended from one of. the ancient kings of Ire- 
land fade into , nothing before those of the gypsy 
women, all of whom, with rare exception, are the 
own daughters of royal personages, gramldaughter- 
liood being hardly a claim to true nobility. Then 
tin! bed itself was exhibited with pride, ,and the 
princess sang its praises, till she afHrmrd that the 
rye himself did not sleep on a better one, for which 
George reprimanded her. But she vigorously de 
fended its excellence, and, to please her, I felt it, 



OATLANDS PARK. 117 

and declared it was indeed much softer than the one 
I slept on, which was really true, thank Heaven ! 
and was received as a great compliment, and after- 
wards proclaimed on the roads even unto the ends of 
Surrey. 

44 Yes," said Brown, as I observed some osiers in 
the cupboard, 44 when I feels like it I sometimes 
makes a pound a day a-making baskets." 

44 1 should think," I said, "that it would be cheaper 
to bay French baskets of Bulrose [Bulureaux] in 
Houndsditch, ready made." 

44 So one would think ; but the r any or [osiers] 
costs nothin 1 , and so it 's all profit, any way." 

Then I urged the greater profit of living in Amer- 
ica, but both assured me that so long as they could 
make a good living and be very comfortable, as they 
considered themselves, in England, it would be non- 
sense to go to America. 

For all things are relative, and many a gypsy whom 
the begged-f rom pity sincerely, is as proud and happy 
in a van as any lord in the land. A very nice, neat 
young gypsy woman, camped long before juH where 
the Browns were, once said to me, 44 It is n't having 
everything fine and stylish that makes you happy. 
Now we 've got a van, and have everything so elegant 
and comfortable, and sleep warm as anybody ; and 
yet I often say to my husband that we used to be 
happier when we used to sleep under a hedge with, 
may be, only a thin blanket, and wake up covered 
with snow." Now this woman had only a wretched 
wagon, and was always tramping in the rain, or oow- 
ering in a smoky, ragged tent and sitting or* the 
ground, but she had food, fire, and fun, with virm 
clothes, and believed herself happy. Truly, sh< had 



118 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

better reason to tliink so than any old maid with a 
heart run to waste on church gossip, or the latest 
engagements and marriages ; for it is better to be a 
street-boy in a corner with a crust than one who, 
without it, discusses, in starvation, with his friend, 
the sausages and turtle-soup in a cook-shop window, 
between which and themselves there is a great pane 
of glass fixed, never to be penetrated. 



IT. 

WALKING AND VISITING. 

I NEVER shall forget the sparkling splendor of 
that frosty morning in December when I went with 
a younger friend from Oatlands Park for a day's 
walk. I may have seen at other times, but I do not 
remember, such winter lace-work as then adorned the 
hedges. The gossamer spider has within her an in- 
ward monitor which tells if the weather will be fine ; 
but it says nothing about sudden changes to keen 
cold, and the artistic result was that the hedges were 
hung with thousands of Honiton lamp-mats, instead 
of the thread fly-catchers which their little artists had 
intended. And on twigs and dead leaves, grass and 
rock and wall, were such expenditures of Brussels 
and Spanish point, such a luxury of real old Venetian 
run mad, and such deliria of Russian lace as made 
it evident that Mrs. Jack Frost is a very extravagant 
fairy, but one gifted with exquisite taste. When I 
reflect how I have in my time spoken of the taste for 
lace and diamonds in women as entirely without 
foundation in nature, I feel that I sinned deeply. 
For Nature, in this lace-work, displays at times a 
sympathy with humanity, especially womanity, 
and coquets and flirts with it, as becomes the sub- 
ject, in a manner which is merrily awful. There was 
once in Philadelphia a shop the windows of which 
were always filled with different kinds of the richest 



120 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

and rarest lace, and one cold morning I found thai 
the fairies had covered the panes with literal frost 
fac-similes of the exquisite wares which hung behind. 
This was no fancy ; the copies were as accurate as 
photographs. Can it be that in the invisible world 
there are Female Fairy Schools of Design, whose 
scholars combine in this graceful style Etching on 
Glass and Art Needlework ? 

We were going to the village of Hersbam to make 
a call. It was not at any stylish villa or lordly manor- 
house, though I knew of more than one in the vicin- 
ity where we would have been welcome, but at a 
rather disreputable-looking edifice, which bore on its 
front the sign of " Lodgings for Travellers." Now 
"traveller" means, below a certain circle of English 
life, not the occasional, but the habitual wanderer, or 
one who dwells upon the roads, and gains his living 
thereon. I have in my possession several cards of 
such a house. I found them wrapped in a piece of 
paper, by a deserted gypsy camp, where they had 
been lost : 



A NEW HOUSE. 

Good Lodging for Travellers. With a Large 

Private Kitchen. 
THE CROSS KEYS, 

WEST STREET MAIDENHEAD. 

BY J. HARRIS. 



The " private kitchen " indicates that the guests 
will have facilities for doing their own cooking, as 
all of them bring their own victuals in perpetual 
picnic. In the inclosure of the house^in Hersham, 
the tops of two or three gypsy vans could always be 
seen above the high fence, and there was that gen- 



WALKING AND VISITING. 121 

eral air of mystery about the entire establishment 
which is characteristic of all places haunted by peo- 
ple whose ways are not as our ways, and whose little 
games are not as our little games. I had become 
acquainted with it and its proprietor, Mr. Hamilton, 
in that irregular and only way which is usual with 
such acquaintances. I was walking by the house 
one summer day, and stopped to ask my way. A 
handsome dark-brown girl was busy at the wash-tub, 
two or three older women were clustered at the gate, 
and in all their faces was the manner of the diddikai 
or chureni, or half-blood gypsy. As I spoke I dropped 
my voice, and said, inquiringly, 

" Romanes ? " 

" Yes," was the confidential answer. 

They were all astonished, and kept quiet till I had 
gone a few rods on my way, when the whole party, 
recovering from their amazement, raised a gentle 
cheer, expressive of approbation and sympathy. A 
few days after, walking with a lady in Weybridge, 
she said to me, 

" Who is that man who looked at you so closely ? " 

" I do not know." 

" That 's very strange. I am quite sure I heard 
him utter two words in a strange language, as you 
passed, as if he only meant them for you. They 
sounded like sarshaun baw." Which means, " How 
are you, sir ? " or friend. As we came up the street, 
I saw the man talking with a well-dressed, sporting- 
looking man, not quite a gentleman, who sat cheekily 
in his own jaunty little wagon. As I passed, the one 
of the wagon said to the other, speaking of me, and 
in pure Romany, evidentlv thinking I did not under- 
stand, 



122 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

" Diktiadovo G-orgio, adoi I " (Look at that Gor- 
gio, there !) 

Being a Romany rye, and not accustomed to be 
spoken of as a Gorgio, I looked up at him, angrily, 
when he, seeing that I understood him, smiled, and 
bowed politely in apology. I laughed and passed on. 
But I thought it a little strange, for neither of the 
men had the slightest indication of gypsiness. I met 
the one who had said sarishdn Id again, soon after. 
I found that he and the one of the wagon were not 
of gypsy blood, but of a class not uncommon in Eng- 
land, who, be they rich or poor, are affected towards 
gypsies. The wealthy one lived with a gypsy mis- 
tregs ; the poorer one had a gypsy wife, and was very 
fond of the language. There is a very large class of 
these mysterious men everywhere about the country. 
They haunt fairs ; they pop up unexpectedly as Jack- 
in-boxes in unsuspected guise ; they look out from 
under fatherly umbrellas ; their name is Legion ; 
their mother is Mystery, and their uncle is Old Tom, 
not of Virginia, but of Gin. Once, in the old town 
of Canterbury, I stood in the street, under the Old 
Woman with the Clock, one of the quaintest pieces 
of drollery ever imagined during the Middle Ages. 
And by me was a tinker, and as his wheel went 
siz-z-z-z, uz-uz-uz-z-z ! I talked with him, and there 
joined us a fat, little, elderly, spectacled, shabby- 
genteel, but well-to-do-looking sort of a punchy, 
small tradesman. And, as we spoke, there went by 
/* great, stout, roaring Romany woman, a scarlet- 
runner of Babylon run to seed, with a boy and a 
hand-cart to carry the seed in. And to her I cried, 
" Hav akai te mandy 'II del tute a sJidori ! " (Come 
here, and I '11 stand a sixpence !) But she did not 



WALKING AND VISITING. 123 

believe in my offer, but went her way, like a Burning 
Shame, through the crowd, and was lost evermore. I 
looked at the little old gentleman to see what effect 
my outcry in a strange language had upon him. But 
he only remarked, soberly, " Well, now, I should 'a' 
thought a sixpence would 'a' brought her to ! " And 
the wheel said, " Suz-zuz-zuz-z-z I should 'a' suz-suz 'a' 
thought a suz-z-zixpence would 'a' suz-zuz 'a' brought 
her, too-z-z-z ! " And I looked at the Old Woman 
with the Clock, and she ticked, "A six pence 
would have brought me two three 
four " and I began to dream that all Canterbury 
was Romany. 

We came to the house, the landlord was up-stairs, 
ill in bed, but would be glad to see us ; and he wel- 
comed us warmly, and went deeply into Romany 
family matters with my friend, the Oxford scholar. 
Meanwhile, his daughter, a nice brunette, received 
and read a letter ; and he tried to explain to me the 
mystery of the many men who are not gypsies, yet 
speak Romany, but could not do it, though he was 
one of them. It appeared from his account that 
they were " a kind of mixed, you see, and dusted in, 
you know, and on it, out of the family, it peppers 
up ; but not exactly, you understand, and that 's the 
way it is. And I remember a case in point, and that 
was one day, and I had sold a horse, and was with my 
boy in a moramengro' 's buddika [barber's shop], and 
my boy says to me, in Romanes, ' Father, I 'd like 
to have my hair cut.' ' It 's too dear here, my son,' 
said I, Romaneskes ; ' for the bill says threepence.' 
And then the barber, he ups and says, in Romany, 
* Since you 're Romanys, I '11 cut it for twopence, 
though it 's clear out of all my rules.' And he did 



124 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

it; but why that man rakkered Romanes I don't 
know, nor how it comes about ; for he had n't no 
more call to it than a pig has to be a preacher. But 
I 've known men in Sussex to take to diggin' truffles 
on the same principles, and one Gorgio in Hastings 
that adopted sellin' fried fish for his livin', about the 
town, because he thought it was kind of romantic. 
That 's it." 

Over the chimney-piece hung a large engraving of 
Milton and his daughters. It was out of place, and 
our host knew it, and was proud. He said he had 
bought it at an auction, and that it was a picture of 
Middleton, a poet, he believed ; " anyhow, he was 
a writing man." But, on second thought, he remem- 
bered that the name was not Middleton, but Millerton. 
And on further reflection, he was still more convinced 
that Millerton ivas a poet. 

I once asked old Matthew Cooper the Romany 
word for a poet. And he promptly replied that he 
had generally heard such a man called a givellengero 
or gilliengro, which means a song-master, but that he 
himself regarded sheresJcero-mush, or head-man, as 
more elegant and deeper ; for poets make songs out 
of their heads, and are also ahead of all other men in 
head-work. There is a touching and unconscious 
tribute to the art of arts in this definition which is 
worth recording. It has been said that, as people 
grow polite, they cease to be poetical ; it is certain 
that in the first circles they do not speak of their 
poets with such respect as this. 

Out again into the fresh air and the frost on the 
crisp, crackling road and in the sunshine. At such a 
time, when cold inspires life, one can understand why 
the old poets and mystics believed that there was fire 



WALKING AND VISITING. 125 

in ice. Therefore, Saint Sebaldus, coming into the hut 
of a poor and pious man who was dying of cold, went 
out, and, bringing in an armful of icicles, laid them on 
the andirons and made a good fire. Now this fire was 
the inner glowing glory of God, and worked both 
wa ys, of course you see the connection, as was 
shown in Adelheid von Sigolsheim, the Holy Nun of 
Unterlinden, who was so full of it that she passed 
the night in a freezing stream, and then stood all 
the morning, ice-clad, in the choir, and never caught 
cold. And the pious Peroneta, to avoid a sinful suit- 
or, lived all winter, up to her neck, in ice-water, on 
the highest Alp in Savoy. 1 These were saints. But 
there was a gypsy, named Dighton, encamped near 
Brighton, who told me nearly the same story of an- 
other gypsy, who was no saint, and which I repeat 
merely to show how extremes meet. It was that 
this gypsy, who was inspired with anything but the 
inner glowing glory of God, but who wa&, on the 
contrary, cram full of pure cussedness, being warmed 
by the same, and the devil, when chased by the 
constable, took refuge in a river full of freezing slush 
and broken ice, where he stood up to his neck and 
lefied capture ; for he verily cared no more for it 
than did Saint Peter of Alcantara, who was both ice 
and fire proof. " Come out of that, my good man," 
said the gentleman, whose hen he had stolen, "and 
I '11 let you go." " No, I won't come out," said the 
gypsy. "My blood be on your head !" So the gen- 
tleman offered him five pounds, and then a suit of 
clothes, to come ashore. The gypsy reflected, and at 
last said, " Well, if you '11 add a drink of spirits, I '11 
come ; but it 's only to oblige you that I budge." 
1 Qoerres, Christliche Mystilc, i. 296. 1. 23. 



126 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

Then we walked in the sober evening, with its 
gray gathering shadows, as the last western rose light 
rippled in the river, yet fading in the sky, like a 
good man who, in dying, speaks cheerfully of earthly 
things, while his soul is vanishing serenely into heaven. 
The swans, looking like snowballs, unconscious of 
cold, were taking their last swim towards the reedy, 
brake-tangled islets where they nested, gossiping as 
they went. The deepening darkness, at such a time, 
becomes more impressive from the twinkling stars, 
just as the subduing silence is noted only by the far- 
borne sounds from the hamlet or farm-house, or the 
occasional whispers of the night-breeze. So we went 
on in the twilight, along the Thames, till we saw 
the night-fire of the Romanys and its gleam on the 
tan. A tan is, strictly speaking, a tent, but a tent is 
a dwelling, or stopping-place ; and so from earliest 
Aryan time, the word tan is like Alabama, or " here 
we rest," and may be found in tun, the ancestor of 
town, and in stan, as in Hindostan, and if I blun- 
der, so much the better for the philological gentle- 
men, who, of all others, most delight in setting erring 
brothers right, and never miss a chance to show, 
through others' shame, how much they know. 

There was a bark of a dog, and a voice said, " The 
Romany rye ! " They had not seen us, but the dog 
knew, and they knew his language. 

" Sarishan ryor ! " 

"0 boro duvel atcti pa leste!" (The great Lord be 
on you !) This is not a common Romany greeting. 
It is of ancient days and archaic. Sixty or seventy 
years ago it WHS current. Old Gentilla Cooper, the fa- 
mous fortune-teller of the Devil's Dike, near Brigh- 
ton, knew it, and when she heard it from me she 



WALKING AND VISITING. 127 

was moved, just as a very old negro in London 
was, when I said to him, "&ady, uncle." I said it 
because I had recognized by the dog's bark that it 
was Sam Smith's tan. Sam likes to be considered 
as deep Romany. He tries to learn old gypsy words, 
and he affects old gypsy ways. He is pleased to be 
called Petulengro, which means Smith. Therefore, 
my greeting was a compliment. 

In a few minutes we were in camp and at home. 
We talked of many things, and among others of 
witches. It is remarkable that while the current 
English idea of a witch is that of an old woman who 
has sold herself to Satan, and is a distinctly marked 
character, just like Satan himself, that of the witch 
among gypsies is general and Oriental. There is no 
Satan in India. Mrs. Smith since dead held 
that witches were to be found everywhere. "You 
may know a natural witch," she said, "by certain 
signs. One of these is straight hair which curls at 
the ends. Such women have it in them." 

It was only recently, as I write, that I was at a 
very elegant art reception, which was fully reported 
in the newspapers. And I was very much astonished 
when a lady called my attention to another young 
and very pretty lady, and expressed intense disgust 
at the way the latter wore her hair. It was simply 
parted in the middle, and fell down on either side, 
smooth as a water-fall, and then broke into curls at 
the ends, just as water, after falling, breaks into 
waves and rapids. But as she spoke, I felt it all, 
and saw that Mrs. Petulengro was in the right. The 
girl with the end-curled hair was uncanny. Her hair 
curled at the ends, so did her eyes; she was a 
witch. 



128 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

" But there 's a many witches as knows clever 
things," said Mrs. Petulengro. " And I learned 
from one of them how to cure the rheumatiz. Sup- 
pose you Ve got the rheumatiz. Well, just you carry 
a potato in your pocket. As the potato dries up, 
your rheumatiz will go away." 

Sam Smith was always known on the roads as 
Fighting Sam. Years have passed, and when I have 
asked after him I have always heard that he was either 
in prison or had just been let out. Once it happened 
that, during a fight with a Gorgio, the Gorgio's watch 
disappeared, and Sam was arrested under suspicion 
of having got up the fight in order that the watch 
mi'ght disappear. All of his friends declared his in- 
nocence. The next trouble was for cliorin a gry, or 
stealing a horse, and so was the next, and so on. 
As horse-stealing is not a crime, but only "rough 
gambling," on the roads, nobody defended him on 
these counts. He was, so far as this went, only a 
sporting character. When his wife died he married 
Athalfa, the widow of Joshua Cooper, a gypsy, of 
whom I shall speak anon. I always liked Sam. 
Among the travelers, lie was always spoken of as 
genteel, owing to the fact, that whatever the state 
of his wardrobe might be, he always wore about his 
neck an immaculate white woolen scarf, and on jours 
de fete, such as horse-races, sported a boro stardl, or 
chimney-pot hat. O my friend, Colonel Dash, of 

the club ! Change but the name, this fable is 

of thee ! 

" There 's to be a walgoro, kaliko i sala a fair 
to-morrow morning, at Cobham," said Sam, as he de* 
parted. 

"All right. We '11 be there." 



WALKING AND VISITING. 129 

As I went forth by the river into the night, and 
the stars looked down like loving eyes, there shot a 
meteor across the sky, one long trail of light, out of 
darkness into darkness, one instant bright, then dead 
forever. And I remembered how I once was told 
that stars, like mortals, often fall in love. O love, 
forever in thy glory go ! And that they send their 
starry angels forth, and that the meteors are their 
messengers. O love, forever in thy glory go ! For 
love and light in heaven, as on earth, were ever one, 
and planets speak with light. Light is their lan- 
guage; as they love they speak. O love, forever 
in thy glory go I 
9 



III. 

COBHAM FAIR. 

THE walk from Oatlands Park Hotel to Cobham 
is beautiful with memorials of Older England. Even 
on the grounds there is a quaint brick gatewaj 1 ", 
which is the only relic of a palace which preceded 
the present pile. The grandfather was indeed a 
.stately edifice, built by Henry VIII., improved and 
magnified, according to his lights, by Inigo Jones, 
and then destroyed during the civil war. The 
river is here very beautiful, and the view was once 
painted by Turner. It abounds in " short windings 
and reaches." Here it is, indeed, the Olerifera Tha- 
mesis, as it was called by Guillaume le Breton in 
his " Phillipeis," in the days of Richard the Lion 
Heart. Here the eyots and banks still recall Nor- 
man days, for they are " wild and were ; " and there 
is even yet a wary otter or two, known to the gyp- 
sies and fishermen, which may be seen of moonlight 
nights plunging or swimming silently in the haunted 
water. 

Now we pass Walton Church, and look in, that 
my friend may see the massy Norman pillars and 
arches, the fine painted glass, and the brasses. One 
of these represents John Selwyn, who was keeper of 
the royal park of Oatlands in 1587. Tradition, 
still current in the village, says that Selwyn was a 
man of wondrous strength and of rare skill in horse- 



COBHAM FAIR. 131 

manship. Once, when Queen Elizabeth was present 
at a stag hunt, he leaped from his horse upon the 
back of the stag, while both were running at full 
speed, kept his seat gracefully, guided the animal 
towards the queen, and stabbed him so deftly that 
he fell dead at her majesty's feet. It was daintily 
done, and doubtless Queen Bess, who loved a proper 
man, was well pleased. The brass plate represents 
Selwyn as riding on the stag, and there is in the vil- 
lage a shop where the neat old dame who presides, 
or her daughter, will sell you for a penny a picture 
of the plate, and tell you the story into the bargain. 
In it the valiant ranger sits on the stag, which he is 
stabbing through the neck with his couteau de chasse, 
looking meanwhile as solemn as if he were sitting in 
a pew and listening to De profundis. He who is 
great in one respect seldom fails in some other, and 
there is in the church another and a larger brass, 
from which it appears that Selwyn not only had a 
wife, but also eleven children, who are depicted in 
successive grandeur or gradation. There are monu- 
ments by Roubiliac and Chan trey in the church, and 
on the left side of the altar lies buried William Lilly, 
the great astrologer, the Sidrophel of Butler's " Hu- 
dibras." And look into the chancel. There is a 
tablet to his memory, which was put up by Elias 
Ashmole, the antiquary, who has left it in print that 
this "fair black marble stone" cost him 6 4s. Qd. 
When I was a youth, and used to pore in the old 
Franklin Library of Philadelphia over Lilly, I never 
thought that his grave would be so near my home. 
But a far greater literary favorite of mine lies buried 
in the church-yard without. This is Dr. Maginn, the 
author of " Father Tom and the Pope," and many 



132 ' ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

another racy, subtle jest. A fellow of infinite humor, 

the truest disciple of Rabelais, and here he lies 
without a monument ! 

Summon the sexton, and let us ask him to show 
us the scold's, or gossip's, bridle. This is a rare 
curiosity, which is kept in the vestry. It would 
seem, from all that can be learned, that two hundred 
years ago there were in England viragoes so virulent, 
women so gifted with gab and so loaded and primed 
with the devil's own gunpowder, that all moral sua- 
sion was wasted on them, and simply showed, as old 
Reisersberg wrote, that fatue agit qui ignem conatur 
extinguere sulphure ('t is all nonsense to try to quench 
fire with brimstone). For such diavolas they had 
made what the sexton is just going to show you 

a muzzle of thin iron bars, which pass around the 
head and are padlocked behind. In front a flat piece 
of iron enters the mouth and keeps down the tongue. 
On it is the date 1633, and certain lines, no longer 
legible : 

" Chester presents Walton with a bridle, 
To curb women's tongues that talk too idle/' 

A sad story, if we only knew it all ! What tra- 
dition tells is that long ago there was a Master Ches- 
ter, who lost a fine estate through the idle, malicious 
clack of a gossiping, lying woman. " What is good 
for a bootless bene ? " What he did was to endow 
the church with this admirable piece of head-gear. 
And when any woman in the parish was unanimously 
adjudged to be deserving of the honor, the bridle 
was put on her head and tongue, and she was led 
about town by the beadle as an example to all the 
scolding sisterhood. Truly, if it could only be applied 
to the women and men who repeat gossip, rumors 



COBHAM FAIR. 133 

reports, on dits, small slanders, proved or unproved; 
to all gobe-m ouches, club-gabblers, tea-talkers and 
tattlers, chatterers, church-twaddlers, wonderers if- 
it-be-true-what-they-say ; in fine, to the entire sister 
and brother hood of tongue-waggers, I for one would 
subscribe my mite to have one kept in every church 
in the world, to be zealously applied to their vile 
jaws. For verily the mere Social Evil is an angel of 
light on this earth as regards doing evil, compared 
to the Sociable Evil, and thus endeth the first les- 
son. 

We leave the church, so full of friendly memories. 
In this one building alone there are twenty things 
known to me from a boy. For from boyhood I have 
held in my memory those lines by Queen Elizabeth 
which she uttered here, and have read Lilly and Ash- 
mole and Maginn ; and this is only one corner in 
merrie England ! Am I a stranger here ? There is 
a father-land of the soul, which has no limits to him 
who, far sweeping on the wings of song and history, 
goes forth over many lands. 

We have but a little farther to go on our way be- 
fore we come to the quaint old manor-house which 
was of old the home of President Bradshaw, the 
grim old Puritan. There is an old sailor in the vil- 
lage, who owns a tavern, and he says, and the po- 
liceman agrees with him, that it was in this house 
that the death-warrant of King Charles the First was 
signed. Also, that there is a subterranean passage 
which leads from it to the Thames, which was in 
lome way connected with battle, murder, plots, Puri- 
tans, sudden death, and politics ; though how this 
was is more than legend can clearly explain. Whether 
Ms sacred majesty was led to execution through this 



134 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

cavity, or whether Charles the Second had it for one 
of his numerous hiding-places, or returned through 
it with Nell Gwynn from his exile, are other obscure 
points debated among the villagers. The truth is 
that the whole country about Walton is subterrened 
with strange and winding ways, leading no one knows 
whither, dug in the days of the monks or knights, 
from one long-vanished monastery or castle to the 
other. There is the opening to one of these hard 
by the hotel, but there was never any gold found in 
it that ever I heard of. And all the land is full of 
legend, and ghosts glide o' nights along the alleys, 
and there is an infallible fairy well at hand, named 
the Nun, and within a short walk stands the tre- 
mendous Crouch oak, which was known of Saxon 
days. Whoever gives but a little of its bark to a 
lady will win her love. It takes its name from croix 
(a cross), according to Mr. Kemble, 1 and it is twenty- 
four feet in girth. Its first branch, which is forty- 
eight feet long, shoots out horizontally, and is almost 
as large as the trunk. Under this tree Wickliife 
preached, and Queen Elizabeth dined. 

It has been well said by Irving that the English, 
from the great prevalence of rural habits throughout 
every class of society, have been extremely fond of 
those festivals and holidays which agreeably inter- 
rupt the stillness of country life. True, the days 
have gone when burlesque pageant and splendid pro- 
cession made even villages magnificent. Harp and 
tabor and viol are no longer heard in every inn when 
people would be merry, and men have forgotten how 
to give themselves up to headlong roaring levelry. 
The last of this tremendous frolicking in Europe 
1 The Saxons in England, i. 3. 



COBHAM FAIR. 135 

died out with the last yearly Jcermess in Amster- 
dam, and it was indeed wonderful to see with what 
utter abandon the usually stolid Dutch flung them- 
selves into a rushing tide of frantic gayety. Here 
and there in England a spark of the old fire, lit in 
mediaeval times, still flickers, or perhaps flames, as 
at Dorking in the annual foot-ball play, which is 
carried on with such vigor that two or three thousand 
people run wild in it, while all the windows and street 
lamps are carefully screened for protection. But not- 
withstanding the gradually advancing republicanism 
of the age, which is dressing all men alike, bodily 
and mentally, the rollicking democracy of these old- 
fashioned festivals, in which the peasant bonneted the 
peer without ceremony, and rustic maids ran races 
en chemise for a pound of tea, is entirely too leveling 
for culture. There are still, however, numbers of 
village fairs, quietly conducted, in which there is 
much that is pleasant and picturesque, and this at 
Cobham was as pretty a bit of its kind as I ever 
saw. These are old-fashioned and gay in their little 
retired nooks, and there the plain people show them- 
selves as they really are. The better class of the 
neighborhood, having no sympathy with such sports 
or scenes, do not visit village fairs. It is, indeed, a 
most exceptional thing to see any man who is a 
" gentleman," according to the society standard, in 
any fair except Mayfair in London. 

Cobham is well built for dramatic display. Its 
White Lion Inn is of the old coaching days, and the 
lion on its front is a very impressive monster, one of 
the few relics of the days when signs were signs in 
spirit and in truth. In this respect the tavern keeper 
of to-day is a poor snob, that he thinks a sign painted 



136 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

or carven is degenerate and low, and therefore an- 
nounces, in a line of letters, that his establishment is 
the Pig and Whistle, just as his remote predecessor 
thought it was low, or slow, or old-fashioned to ded- 
icate his ale-shop to Pigen Wassail or Hail to the 
Virgin, and so changed it to a more genteel and sec- 
ular form. In the public place were rows of booths 
arranged in streets forming imperium in imperio, a 
town within a town. There was of course the tradi- 
tional gilt gingerbread, and the cheering but not ine- 
briating ginger-beer, dear to the youthful palate, and 
not less loved by the tired pedestrian, when, mixed 
half and half with ale, it foams before him as shandy 
gaff. There, too, were the stands, presided over by 
jaunty, saucy girls, who would load a rifle for you 
and give you a prize or a certain number of shots for 
a shilling. You may be a good shot, but the better 
you shoot the less likely will you be to hit the bull's- 
eye with the rifle which that black-eyed Egyptian 
minx gives you; for it is artfully curved and false- 
sighted, and the rifle was made only to rifle your 
pocket, and the damsel to sell you with her smiles, 
and the doll is stuffed with sawdust, and life is not 
worth living for, and Miching Mallocko says it, 
albeit I believe he lives at times as if there might be 
moments when it was forgot. 

And we had not been long on the ground before 
we were addressed furtively and gravely by a man 
whom it required a second glance to recognize as 
Samuel Petulengro, so artfully was he disguised as a 
simple-seeming agriculturalist of the better lower- 
cla^ss. But that there remained in Sam's black eyes 
that glint of the Romany which nothing could dis- 
guise, one would have longed to buy a horse of him. 



COBHAM FAIR. 137 

And in the same quiet way there came, one by one, 
out of the crowd, six others, all speaking in subdued 
voices, like conspirators, and in Romany, as if it were 
a sin. And all were dressed rustically, and the same 
with intent to deceive, and all had the solemn air of 
very small farmers, who must sell that horse at any 
sacrifice. But when I saw Sam's horses I marked 
that his disguise of himself was nothing to the won- 
drous skill with which he had converted his five-pound 
screws into something comparatively elegant. They 
had been curried, clipped, singed, and beautified to 
the last resource, and the manner in which the finest 
straw had been braided into mane and tail was a 
miracle of art. This was a jour de fete for Sam and 
his diddikai, or half-blood pals ; his foot was on his 
native heath in the horse-fair, where all inside the 
ring knew the gypsy, and it was with pride that he 
invited us to drink ale, and once in the bar-room, 
where all assembled were jockeys and sharps, con- 
versed loudly in Romany, in order to exhibit himself 
and us to admiring friends. A Romany rye, on such 
occasions, is to a Sam Petulengro what a scion of 
royalty is to minor aristocracy when it can lure him 
into its nets. To watch one of these small horse- 
dealers at a fair, and to observe the manner in which 
he conducts his bargains, is very curious. He lounges 
about all day, apparently doing nothing; he is the 
only idler around. Once in a while somebody ap- 
proaches him and mutters something, to which he 
gives a brief reply. Then he goes to a tap-room or 
stable-yard, and is merged in a mob of his mates. 
But all the while he is doing sharp clicks of business. 
There is somebody talking to another party .about 
(hat horse ; somebody telling a farmer that he knows 



138 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

a young man as has got a likely 'oss at 'arf price, 
the larst of a lot which he wants to clear out, and 
it may be 'ad, but if the young man sees 'im [the 
farmer] he may put it on 'eavy. 

Then the agent calls in one of the disguised Rom- 
anys to testify to the good qualities of the horse. 
They look at it, but the third deguisg, who has it in 
charge, avers that it has just been sold to a gentle- 
man. But they have another. By this time the 
farmer wishes he had bought the horse. When any 
coin slips from between our fingers, and rolls down 
through a grating into the sewer, we are always sure 
that it was a sovereign, and not a half-penny. Yes, 
and the fish which drops back from the line into the 
river is always the biggest take or mistake of the 
day. And this horse was a bargain, and the three in 
disguise say so, and wish they had a hundred like it. 
But there comes a Voice from the depths, a casual 
remark, offering to bet that 'ere gent won't close on 
that hoss. " Bet yer ten bob he will." " Done." 
" How do yer know he don't take the hoss ? " " He 
carn't ; he 's too heavy loaded with Bill's mare. 
Says he '11 sell it for a pound better." The farmer 
begins to see his way. He is shrewd ; it may be that 
he sees through all this myth of "the gentleman." 
But his attention has been attracted to the horse. 
Perhaps he pays a little more, or " the pound bet- 
ter; " in greater probability he gets Sam's horse for 
the original price. There are many ways among 
gypsies of making such bargains, but the motive 
power of them all is tdderin, or drawing the eye ol 
the purchaser, a game not unknown to Gorgios. I 
have heard of a German yahiid in Philadelphia, 
whose little boy Moses would shoot from the dool 



COBHAM FAIR. 139 

with a pop-gun or squirt at passers-by, or abuse them 
vilely, and then run into the shop for shelter. They 
of course pursued him and complained to the parent, 
who immediately whipped his son, to the great solace 
of the afflicted ones. And then the afflicted seldom 
failed to buy something in that shop, and the cor- 
rected son received ten per cent, of the profit. The 
attention of the public had been drawn. 

As we went about looking at people and pastimes, 
a Romany, I think one of the Ayres, said to rne, 

" See the two policemen ? They 're following you 
two gentlemen. They saw you pallin' with Bowers. 
That Dowers is the biggest blackguard on the roads 
between London and Windsor. I don't want to hurt 
his charackter, but it 's no bad talkin' nor dusherin of 
him to say that no decent Romanys care to go with 
him. Good at a mill ? Yes, he 's that. A reg'lar 
wastimengrO) I call him. And that's why it is." 

Now there was in the fair a vast institution which 
proclaimed by a monstrous sign and by an excessive 
eruption of advertisement that it was THE SENSA- 
TION OF THE AGE. This was a giant hand-organ in 
connection with a forty-bicycle merry-go-round, all 
propelled by steam. And as we walked about the 
fair, the two rural policemen, who had nothing better 
to do, shadowod or followed us, their bucolic features 
expressing the intensest suspicion allied to the ex- 
tremest stupidity ; when suddenly the Sensation of 
the Age struck up the Gendarme's chorus, " We '11 
run 'em in," from Genevieve de Brabant, and the 
arrangement was complete. Of all airs ever com 
posed this was the most appropriate to the occasion, 
and therefore it played itself. The whole formed 
quite a little opera-bouffe, gypsies not being wanting, 



140 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

And as we came round, in our promenade, the pretty 
girl, with her rifle in hand, implored us to take a shot, 
and the walk wound up by her finally letting fly her- 
self and ringing the bell. 

That pretty girl might or might not have a touch 
of Romany blood ^n her veins, but it is worth noting 
that among all these show-men and show-women, 
acrobats, exhibitors of giants, purse-droppers, ginger- 
bread-wheel gamblers, shilling knife-throwers, pitch- 
in-his-mouths, Punches, Cheap-Jacks, thimble-rigs, 
and patterers of every kind there is always a leaven 
and a suspicion of gypsiness. If there be not descent, 
there is affinity by marriage, familiarity, knowledge 
of words and ways, sweethearting and trafficking, so 
that they know the children of the Rom as the house- 
world does not know them, and they in some sort 
belong together. It is a muddle, perhaps, and a puz- 
zle ; I doubt if anybody quite understands it. No 
novelist, no writer whatever, has as yet clearly ex- 
plained the curious fact that our entire nomadic pop- 
ulation, excepting tramps, is not, as we thought in 
our childhood, composed of English people like our- 
selves. It is leavened with direct Indian blood ; it 
has, more or less modified, a peculiar morale. It was 
old before the Saxon heptarchy. 

I was very much impressed' at this fair with the 
extensive and unsuspected amount of Romany ex- 
istent in our rural population. We had to be sat- 
isfied, as we came late into the tavern for lunch, 
with cold boiled beef and carrots, of which I did 
not complain, as cold carrots are much nicer than 
warm, a fact too little understood in cookery. There 
were many men in the common room, mostly well 
dressed, and decent even if doubtful looking. I ob. 



COBHAM FAIR. 141 

served that several used Romany words in casual con- 
versation. I came to the conclusion at last that all 
who were present knew something of it. The greatly 
reprobated Bowers was not himself a gypsy, but he 
had a gypsy wife. He lived in a cottage not far 
from Walton, and made baskets, while his wife roamed 
far and near, selling them ; and I have more than once 
stopped and sent for a pot of ale, and shared it with 
Bill, listening meantime to his memories of the road 
as he caned chairs or " basketed." I think his rep- 
utation came rather from a certain Bohemian disre- 
gard of convenances and of appearances than from any 
deeply-seated sinfulness. For there are Bohemians 
even among gypsies ; everything in this life being 
relative and socially-contractive. When I came to 
know the disreputable William well, I found in him 
the principles of Panurge, deeply identified with the 
morale of Falstaff ; a wondrous fund of unbundled 
humor, which expressed itself more by tones than 
words ; a wisdom based on the practices of the prize- 
ring ; and a perfectly sympathetic admiration of my 
researches into Romany. One day, at Kingston Fair, 
as I wished to depart, I asked Bill the way to the 
station. " I will go with you and show you," he 
said. But knowing that he had business in the fair 
I declined his escort. He looked at me as if hurt. 

"Does tute pen mandy'd chore tute?" (Do you 
think I would rob you or pick your pockets ?) For 
he believed I was afraid of it. I knew Bill better. I 
knew that he was perfectly aware that I was about 
the only man in England who had a good opinion 
of him in any way, or knew what good there was 
in him. When afemme incomprise, a woman not as 
yet found out, discovers at last the man who is so 



142 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

much a master of the art of flattery as to satisfy 
somewhat her inordinate vanity, she is generally 
grateful enough to him who has thus gratified her 
desires to refrain from speaking ill of him, and abuse 
those who do, especially the latter. In like manner, 
Bill Bowers, who was every whit as interesting as 
any femme incomprise in Belgravia, or even Russell 
Square, believing that I had a little better opinion 
of him than anybody else, would not only have re- 
frained from robbing me, but have proceeded to lam 
with his fists anybody else who would have done so, 
the latter proceeding being, from his point of view, 
only a light, cheerful, healthy, and invigorating ex- 
ercise, so that, as he said, and as I believe truthfully, 
"I'd rather be walloped than not fight." Even as 
my friend H. had rather lose than not play " farrer." 

This was a very pretty little country fair at Cob- 
ham ; pleasant and purely English. It was very 
picturesque, with its flags, banners, gayly bedecked 
booths, and mammoth placards, there being, as usual, 
no lack of color or objects. I wonder that Mr. Frith, 
who has given with such idiomatic genius the humors 
of the Derby, has never painted an old-fashioned ru- 
ral fair like this. In a few years the last of them 
will have been closed, and the last gypsy will be there 
to look on. 

There was a pleasant sight in the afternoon, when 
all at once, as it seemed to me, there came hundreds 
of pretty, rosy-cheeked children into the fair. There 
were twice as many of them as of grown people. I 
think that, the schools being over for the day, they 
had been sent a-fairing for a treat. They swarmed 
in like small bee-angels, just escaped from some upset 
celestial hive ; they crowded around the booths, buy- 



COBHAM FAIR. 143 

ing little toys, chattering, bargaining, and laughing, 
when my eye caught theirs, as though to be noticed 
was the very best joke in the whole world. They 
soon found out the Sensation of the Age, and the 
mammoth steam bicycle was forthwith crowded with 
the happy little creatures, raptured in all the glory 
of a ride. The cars looked like baskets full of roses. 
It was delightful to see them : at first like grave and 
stolid little Anglo-Saxons, occupied seriously with the 
new Sensation ; then here and there beaming with 
thawing jollity ; then smiling like sudden sun-gleams ; 
and then laughing, until all were in one grand chorus, 
as the speed became greater, and the organ roared 
out its notes as rapidly as a runaway musical locomo- 
tive, and the steam-engine puffed in time, until a 
high-pressure scream told that the penn'orth of fun 
was up. 

As we went home in the twilight, and looked back 
at the trees and roofs of the village, in dark silhouette 
against the gold-bronze sky, and heard from afar and 
fitfully the music of the Great Sensation mingled with 
the beat of a drum and the shouts of the crowd, rising 
and falling with the wind, I felt a little sad, that the 
age, in its advancing refinement, is setting itself 
against these old-fashioned merry-makings, and shrink- 
ing like a weakling from all out-of-doors festivals, on 
the plea of their being disorderly, but in reality be- 
cause they are believed to be vulgar. They come 
down to us from rough old days ; but they are relics 
of a time when life, if rough, was at least kind and 
hearty. We admire that life on the stage, we ape it 
in novels, we affect admiration and appreciation of 
its rich picturesqueness and vigorous originality, and 
we lie in so doing ; for there is not an aesthetic prig 



144 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

in London who could have lived an hour in it. Truly, 
I should like to know what Fransois Villon and Chau- 
cer would have thought of some of their modern ador- 
ers, or what the lioness Fair-sinners of the olden time 
would have had to say to the nervous weaklings who 
try to play the genial blackguard in their praise ! It 
is to me the best joke of the age that those who now 
set themselves up for priests of the old faith are the 
men, of all others, whom the old gods would have 
kicked, cum magnet injuria, out of the temple. When 
I sit by Bill Bowers, as he baskets, and hear the bees 
buzz about his marigolds, or in Plato Buckland's van, 
or with a few hearty and true men of London town 
of whom I wot, then I know that the old spirit liveth 
in its ashes ; but there is little of it, I trow, among its 
penny prig-trumpeters. 



IV. 

THE MIXED FORTUNES. 

" Thus spoke the king to the great Master: ' Thou didst bless and 
ban the people ; thou didst give benison and curse, luck and sorrow, to 
the evil or the good.' 

" And the Master said, ' It may be so.' 

" And the king continued, ' There came two men, and one was good 
and the other bad. And one thou didst bless, thinking he was good ; 
but he was wicked. And the other thou didst curse, and thought him 
bad ; but he was good.' 

" The Master said, 'And what came of it ? ' 

" The king answered, ' All evil came upon the good man, and all 
happiness to the bad/ 

" And the Master said, ' I write letters, but I am not the messenger; 
I hunt the deer, but I am not the cook; I plant the vine, but I do not 
pour the wine to the guests ; I ordain war, yet do not fight ; I send 
ships forth on the sea, but do not sail them. There is many a slip 
between cup and lip, as the chief of the rebel spirits said when he 
was thrown out of heaven, and I am not greater nor wiser than he 
was before he fell. Hast thou any more questions, son ? " 

" And the king went his way." 

ONE afternoon I was walking with three ladies. 
One was married, one was a young widow, and one, 
no longer very young, had not as yet husbanded her 
resources. And as we went by the Thames, conversa- 
tion turned upon many things, and among them the 
mystery of the future and mediums ; and the widow 
at last said she would like to have her fortune told. 

"You need not go far to have it done," I said. 
" There is a gypsy camp not a mile away, and in it 
one of the cleverest fortune-tellers in England." 

" I am almost afraid to go," said the maiden lady 
10 



146 ENGLISH GYPSTES. 

" It seems to me to be really wrong to try to look 
into the awful senvts of futurity. One can never be 
.in as to what a gypsy may not know. It 's all 
very well, I dare say, to declare it 's all rubbish, but 
then you know you never can tell what may be in a 
rubbish-heap, and they may be predicting true things 
all the time while they think they 're humbugging 
you. And they do often foretell the most wonderful 
things ; I know they do. My aunt was told that she 
would marry a man who would cause her trouble, 
and, sure enough, she did ; and it was such a shame, 
she was such a sweet-tempered, timid woman, and he 
spent half her immense fortune. Now was n't that 
wonderful ? " 

It would be a curious matter for those who like 
studying statistics and chance to find out what pro- 
portion in England of sweet-tempered, timid women 
of the medium-middle class, in newly-sprouted fami- 
lies, with immense fortunes, do not marry men who 
only want their money. Such heiresses are the nat- 
ural food of the noble shark and the swell sucker, 
sind even a gypsy knows it, and can read them at a 
glance. I explained this to the lady ; but she knew 
what she knew, and would not know otherwise. 

So we came along the rippling river, watching the 
>lartiiiLC swallows and light water-gnats, as the sun 
sank afar into the tawny, golden west, and Night, in 
Hearing circles, wove her shades around us. We 
saw the little tents, like, bee-hives, one, indeed, not 
larger than the hive in which Tyll Eulenspiegel slept 
his famous nap, and in which he was carried away by 
the thieves who mistook him for honey and found him 
vim-gar. And the outposts, or advanced pickets of 
small, brown, black-eyed elves, were tumbling about 



THE MIXED FORTUNES. 147 

as usual, and shouted their glad greeting ; for it was 
only the day before that I had come down with two 
dozen oranges, which by chance proved to be just 
one apiece for all to eat except for little Synfie Cooper, 
who saved hers up for her father when he should re- 
turn. 

I had just an instant in which to give the gypsy 
sorceress a " straight tip," and this I did, saying in 
Romany that one of the ladies was married and one 
a widow. I was indeed quite sure that she must 
know the married lady as such, since she had lived 
near at hand, within a mile, for months. And so, 
with all due solemnity, the sorceress went to her 
work. 

" You will come first, my lady, if you please," she 
said to the married dame, and led her into a hedge- 
corner, so as to be remote from public view, while we 
waited by the camp. 

The hand was inspected, and properly crossed with 
a shilling, and the seeress began her prediction. 

" It 's a beautiful hand, my lady, and there 's luck 
in it. The line o' life runs lovely and clear, just like 
a smooth river from sea to sea, and that means you '11 
never be in danger before you die, nor troubled with 
much ill. And it 's written that you '11 have another 
husband very soon." 

" But I don't want another," said the lady. 

" Ah, my dear lady, so you '11 say till you get him, 
but when he comes you '11 be glad enough; so do you 
just get the first one out of your head as soon as 
you can, for the next will be the better one. And 
you '11 cross the sea and travel in a foreign land, and 
remember what I told you to the end of your life 
days." 



148 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

Then the widow had her turn. 

" This is a lucky hand, and little need you had to 
have your fortune told. You 've been well married 
once, and once is enough when it 's all you need. 
There 's others as is never satisfied and wants every- 
thing, but you 've had the best, and more you need n't 
want, though there '11 be many a man who '11 be in 
love with you. Ay, indeed, there 's fair and dark 
as will feel the favor of your beautiful eyes, but little 
good will it do them, and barons and lords as would 
kiss the ground you tread on ; and no wonder, either, 
for you have the charm which nobody can tell what 
it is. But it will do 'em no good, nevermore." 

*' Then I 'm never to have another husband," said 
the widow. 

"No, my lady. He that you married was the best 
of all, and, after him, you '11 never need another ; and 
that was written in your hand when you were born, 
and it will be your fate, forever and ever : and that 
is the gypsy's production over the future, and what 
she lias producted will come true. All the stars in 
the fermentation of heaven can't change it. But if 
you ar'n't satisfied, I can set a planet for you, and try 
the cards, which comes more expensive, for I never do 
that under ten shillings." 

There was a comparing of notes among the ladies 
and much laughter, when it appeared that the priest- 
ess of the hidden spell, in her working, had mixed up 
the oracles. Jacob had manifestly got Esau's blessing. 
It w; 1 that the bonnes fortunes should be ex- 

changed, that the shillings might not be regarded as 
lost, and all this was explained to the unmarried lady. 
She said nothing, but in due time was also dukkered, 
or fortune-told. With the same mystery she was con* 



THE MIXED FORTUNES. 



149 



ducted to the secluded corner of the hedge, and a very 
long, low-murmuring colloquy ensued. What it was 
we never knew, but the lady had evidently been 
greatly impressed and awed. All that she would 
tell was that she had heard things that were " very 
remarkable, which she was sure no person living 
could have known," and in fact that she believed 
in the gypsy, and 'even the blunder as to the mar- 
ried lady and the widow, and all my assurances that 
chiromancy as popularly practiced was all humbug, 
made no impression. There was once " a disciple 
in Yabneh " who gave a hundred and fifty reasons 
to prove that a reptile was no more unclean than 
any other animal. But in those days people had not 
been converted to the law of turtle soup and the gos- 
p'el of Saint Terrapin, so the people said it was a vain 
thing. And had I given a hundred and fifty reasons 
to this lady, they would have all been vain to her, for 
she wished to believe ; and when our own wishes are 
served up unto us on nice brown pieces of the well- 
buttered toast of flattery, it is not hard to induce us 
to devour them. 

It is written that when Ashmedai, or Asmodeus, 
the chief of all the devils of mischief, was being led 
a captive to Solomon, he did several mysterious things 
while on the way, among others bursting into ex- 
travagant laughter, when he saw a magician conjur- 
ing and predicting. On being questioned by Benaiah, 
the son of Jehoiada, why he had seemed so much 
amused, Ashmedai answered that it was because the 
seer was at the very time sitting on a princely treas- 
ure, and he did not, with all his magic and promising 
tortune to others, know this. Yet, if this had been 
told *<> all the world, the conjurer's business would 



150 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

not have suffered. Not a bit of it. Entre Jean, passe 
Jeannot : one comes and goes, another takes his place, 
and the poor will disappear from this world before the 
too credulous shall have departed. 

It was on the afternoon of the following day that 
I, by chance, met the gypsy with a female friend, 
each with a basket, by the roadside, in a lonely, furzy 
place, beyond Walton. 

"You are a nice fortune-teller, aren't you now?" I 
said to her. " After getting a tip, which made it all 
as clear as day, you walk straight into the dark. And 
here you promise a lady two husbands, and she mar- 
ried already ; but you never promised me two wives, 
that I might make merry withal. And then to tell 
a widow that she would never be married again ! 
You 're a bori clwvihani [a great witch], indeed, you 
aren't." 

u j?fo/e," said the gypsy, with a droll smile and a 
shrug, I think I can see it now, "the dukkerin 
[prediction] was all right, but I pet the right duk- 
< on the wrong ladies." 

And the Master said, " I write letters, but I am 
not the messenger." His orders, like the gypsy's, 
had been all right, but they had gone to the wrong 
shop. Thus, in all ages, those who affect superior 
wisdom and foreknowledge absolute have found that 
a great practical part of the real business consisted 
in the plausible explanation of failures. The great 
t 'anadiiin weather prophet is said to keep two clerks 
busy, one in recording his predirlions, the, other in 
explaining their failures; \\liich is much the case with 
the, rain-doctors in Africa, who are as ingenious and 
fortunate in explaining a miss as a hit, as, indeed, 
they need be, since they must, in case of error, sul> 



THE MIXED FORTUNES. 



151 



mit to be devoured alive by ants, insects which iu 
Africa correspond in several respects to editors and 
critics, particularly the stinging kind. -'Und ist 
man bei der Prophezeiung angestellt," as Heine says; 
" when a man has a situation in a prophecy-office," 
a great part of his business is to explain to the cus- 
tomers why it is that so many of them draw blanks, 
or why the trains of fate are never on time. 



V. 

HAMPTON RACES. 

ON a summer day, when waking dreams softly wave 
before the fancy, it is pleasant to walk in the noon- 
stillness along the Thames, for then we pass a series 
of pictures forming a gallery which I would not ex- 
change for that of the Louvre, could I impress them as 
indelibly upon the eye-memory as its works are fixed 
on canvas. There exists in all of us a spiritual pho- 
tographic apparatus, by means of which we might 
retain accurately all we have ever seen, and bring 
out, at will, the pictures from the pigeon-holes of 
the memory, or make new ones as vivid as aught we 
see in dreams, but the faculty must be developed in 
childhood. So surely. as I am now writing this will 
become, at some future day, a branch of education, to 
be developed into results of which the wildest imagi 
nation can form no conception, and I put the predic- 
tion on record. As it is, I am sorry that I was never 
t ruined to this half-thinking, half-painting art, since, 
if I had been, I should have left for distant days to 
come some charming views of Surrey as it appears in 
this decade. 

The reedy eyots and the rising hills ; the level mead- 
ows and the little villes, with their antique perpen- 
dicular Gothic churches, which form the points around 
which they have clustered for centuries, even as groups 
of boats in the river are tied around their mooring- 



HAMPTON RACES. 



153 



posts ; the bridges and trim cottages or elegant man- 
sions with their flower-bordered grounds sweeping 
down to the water's edge, looking like rich carpets 
with new baize over the centre, make the pictures 
of which I speak, varying with every turn of the 
Thames; while the river itself is, at this season, like 
a continual regatta, with many kinds of boats, pro- 
pelled by stalwart young Englishmen or healthy, 
handsome damsels, of every rank, the better class by 
far predominating. There is a disposition among the 
English to don quaint holiday attire, to put on the 
picturesque, and go to the very limits which custom 
permits, which would astonish an American. Of late 
years this is becoming the case, too, in Trans-Atlan- 
tis, but it has always been usual in England, to 
mark the fete day with a festive dress, to wear gay 
ribbons, and to indulge the very harmless instinct of 
youth to be gallant and gay. 

I had started one morning on a walk by the Thames, 
when I met a friend, who asked, 

" Are n't you going to-day to the Hampton races ? " 

"How far is it?" 

" Just six miles. On Molesy Hurst." 

Six miles, and I had only six shillings in my pocket. 
I had some curiosity to see this race, which is run on 
the Molesy Hurst, famous as the great place for prize- 
fighting in the olden time, and which has never been 
able to raise itself to respectability, inasmuch as the 
local chronicler says that " the course attracts con- 
siderable and not very reputable gatherings." In 
fact, it is generally spoken of as the Costermonger's 
race, at which a mere welsher is a comparatively 
respectable character, and every man in a good coat 
tt swell. I was nicely attired, by chance, for the oo 



154 I:\CLISH GYPSIES. 

casion, for I had come out, thinking of a ride, in a 
white hat, new corduroy pantaloons arid waistcoat, 
and a velveteen coat, which dress is so greatly ad- 
mired by the gypsies that it may almost be regarded 
as their " national costume." 

There was certainly, to say the least, a rather bour- 
geois tone at the race, and gentility was conspicuous by 
its absence ; but I did not find it so outrageously low 
as I hud been led to expect. I confess that I was not 
encouraged to attempt to increase my little hoard of 
silver by betting, and the certainty that if I lost I 
could not lunch made me timid. But the good are 
never alone in this world, and I found friends whom 
I dreamed not of. Leaving the crowd, I sought the 
gypsy vans, and by one of these was old Liz Buck- 
land. 

* 4 A$'rt/v.s-/"//f rye! And glad I am to see you. Why 
did n't you come down into Kent to see the hoppin' ? 
Many a time the Romanys says they expected to see 
their ri/r. there. Just the other night, your Coopers 
was ji-lyin' round their fire, every one of 'em in a new 
red blanket, lookin' so beautiful as the light shone on 
'em, and I says, * If our rye was to see you, he 'd 
just have that book of his out, and take all your pict- 
ures.' ' 

After much gossip over absent friends, I said, 

" Well, dye, I stand a shilling for beer, and that 's 
all I can do to-day, for I 've come out with only shove 
trin-grushi." 

Liz took the shilling, looked at it and at me with 
;in earnest air, and shook her head. 

" It '11 never do, rye, never. A gentleman wants 
more than six shillin's to see a race through, and a 
regular Romany rye like you ought to slap down his 



HAMPTON RACES. 



155 



lovvo with the best of 'em for the credit of his people. 
And if you want a bar [a pound] or two, I '11 lend 
you the money, and never fear about your pay- 
ment." 

It was kind of the old dye, but I thought that I 
would pull through on my five shillings, before I would 
draw on the Romany bank. To be considered with 
sincere sympathy, as an object of deserving charity, on 
the lowest race-ground in England, and to be offered 
eleemosynary relief by a gypsy, was, indeed, touching 
the hard pan of humiliation. I went my way, idly 
strolling about, mingling affably with all orders, for 
my watch was at home. Vacuus viator cantabit. As I 
stood by a fence, I heard a gentlemanly-looking young 
man, who was evidently a superior pickpocket, or " a 
regular fly gonoff," say to a friend, 

" She 's on the ground, a great woman among 
the gypsies. What do they call her ? " 

" Mrs. Lee." 

" Yes. A swell Romany she is." 

Whenever one hears an Englishman, not a scholar, 
speak of gypsies as " Romany," he may be sure that 
man is rather more on the loose than becomes a 
steady citizen, and that he walks in ways which, if 
not of darkness, are at least in a shady demi-jour, 
with a gentle down grade. I do not think there was 
anybody on the race-ground who was not familiar 
with the older word. 

It began to rain, and before long my new velveteen 
coat was very wet. I looked among the booths for 
one where I might dry myself and get something to 
eat, and, entering the largest, was struck by the ap- 
pearance of the landlady. She was a young and 
decidedly pretty woman, nicely dressed, and was un- 



156 KXGLISH GYPSIES. 

mistakably gypsy. I had never seen her before, but 
I knew who she was by a description I had heard. 
So I went up to the bar and spoke : 

" How are you, Agnes ? " 

" Bloomin'. What will you have, sir ? " 

" Dui curro levinor, yeckfor tute, yeckfor mandy" 
(Two glasses for ale, one for you, one for me.) 

She looked up with a quick glance and a wonder- 
ing smile, and then said, 

" You must be the Romany rye of the Coopers. 
I 'm glad to see you. Bless me, how wet you are. 
Go to the fire and dry yourself. Here, Bill, I say ! 
Attend to this gentleman." 

There was a tremendous roaring fire at the farther 
end of the booth, at which were pieces of meat, so 
enormous as to suggest a giant's roast or a political 
barbecue rather than a kitchen. I glanced with 
some interest at Bill, who came to aid me. In all 
my life I never saw a man who looked so thoroughly 
the regular English bull-dog bruiser of the lowest 
type, but battered and worn out. His nose, by oft- 
ro pouted pummeling, had gradually subsided almost 
to a level with his other features, just as an ancient 
British grave subsides, under the pelting storms of 
centuries, into equality with the plain. His eyes 
looked out from under their bristly eaves like sleepy 
wild-cats from a pig-pen, and his physique was tre- 
mendous. He noticed my look of curiosity. 

" Old Bruisin' Bill, your honor. I was well knowed 
in the prize-ring once. Been in the newspapers. Now, 
you mus' n't dry your coat that way ! New welwe- 
to-n ought always to be wiped afore you dry it. I 
was a gamekeeper myself for six years, an' wore it 
all that time nice and proper, I did, and know how 



HAMPTON RACES. 157 

May be you 've got a thrip'ny bit for old Bill. 
Thanky." 

I will do Mrs. Agnes Wynn the credit to say that 
in her booth the best and most abundant meal that 
I ever, saw for the price in England was given for 
eighteen pence. Fed and dried, I was talking with 
her, when there came up a pretty boy of ten, so 
neat and well dressed and altogether so nice that he 
might have passed current for a gentleman's son any- 
where. 

" Well, Agnes. You 're Wynn by name and win- 
some by nature, and all the best you have has gone 
into that boy. They say you gypsies used to steal 
children. I think it 's time to turn the tables, and 
when I take the game up I '11 begin by stealing your 
cliavo" 

Mrs. Wynn looked pleased. " He is a good boy, 
as good as he looks, and he goes to school, and don't 
keep low company." 

Here two or three octoroon, duodecaroon, or vigin- 
tiroon Romany female friends of the landlady came 
up to be introduced to me, and of course to take 
something at my expense for the good of the house. 
This they did in the manner specially favored by 
gypsies; that is to say, a quart of ale, being ordered, 
was offered first to me, in honor of my social posi- 
tion, and then passed about from hand to hand. This 
rite accomplished, I went forth to view the race. 
The sun had begun to shine again, the damp flags 
and streamers had dried themselves in its cheering 
rays, even as I had renewed myself at Dame Wynn's 
fire, and I crossed the race-course. The scene was 
lively, picturesque, and thoroughly English. There 
are certain pleasures and pursuits which, however 



158 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

they may be perfected in other countries, always 
seem to belong especially to England, and chief 
among these is the turf. As a fresh start was made, 
as the spectators rushed to the ropes, roaring with 
excitement, and the horses swept by amid hurrahs, 
I could realize the sympathetic feeling which had 
been developed in all present by ancient familiarity 
and many associations with such scenes. Whatever 
the moral value of these may be, it is certain that 
anything so racy with local color and so distinctly 
fixed in popular affection as the race will always ap- 
peal to the artist and the student of national scenes. 

I found Old Liz lounging with Old Dick, her hus- 
band, on the other side. There was a canvas screen, 
eight feet high, stretched as a background to stop 
the sticks hurled by the players at " coker-nuts," 
while the, nuts themselves, each resting on a stick 
live feet high, looked like disconsolate and starved 
. waiting to be cruelly treated. In company 
with the old couple was a commanding-looking, eagle- 
eyed Romany woman, in whom I at once recognized 
the remarkable gypsy spoken of by the pickpocket. 

" My name is Lee," she said, in answer to my 
greeting. u What is yours ? " 

"Leland." 

" Yes, you have added land to the lee. You are 
luckier than I am. I'm a Lee without land." 

As she spoke she looked like an ideal Meg Mer- 
rilies, and I wished I had her picture. It was very 
strange that I made the wish at that instant, for just 
then she was within an ace of having it taken, and 
therefore arose and went away to avoid it. An itin- 
erant photographer, seeing me talking with the gyp- 
was attempting, though I knew it not, to take 



HAMPTON RACES. 



159 



the group. But the keen eye of the Romany saw ifc 
all, and she went her way, because she was of the 
real old kind, who believe it is unlucky to have their 
portraits taken. I used to think that this aversion 
was of the same kind as that which many good men 
evince in a marked manner when requested by the 
police to sit for their photographs for the rogues' gal- 
lery. But here I did the gypsies great injustice ; for 
they will allow their likenesses to be taken if you will 
give them a shoe-string. That this old superstition 
relative to the binding and loosing of ill-luck by the 
shoe-string should exist in this connection is of it- 
self curious. In the earliest times the shoe-latchet 
brought luck, just as the shoe itself did, especially 
when filled with corn or rice, and thrown af teethe 
bride. It is a great pity that the ignorant Gentiles, 
who are so careful to do this at every wedding, do 
not know that it is all in vain unless they cry aloud 
in Hebrew, "Peru urpJiu ! " l with all their might 
when the shoe is cast, and that the shoe should be 
filled with rice. 

She went away, and in a few minutes the photog- 
rapher came in great glee to show a picture which he 
had taken. 

" 'Ere you are, sir. An elegant photograph, sur- 
roundin' sentimental scenery and horiental coker- 
nuts thrown in, all for a diininitive little shil- 
lin'." 

" Now that time you missed it," I said ; " for on 
my honor as a gentleman, I have only ninepence in 
all my pockets." 

" A gent like you with only ninepence ! " said the 
artist. 

1 Peru urphu ! " Increase and multiply ! " Vide Bodenschatz 
Kirchliche Verfassung der Juden, part IV. ch. 4, sect. 2. 



160 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

" If he lias n't got money in his pocket now," said 
Old Li/, speaking up in my defense, "he has plenty 
at home, lie has given pounds and pounds to us 
gypsies." 

"Dovo's a huckdben" I said to her in Romany. 
" Mandy kekker delled tute kumin a trin-grmlii" 
(That is untrue. I never gave you more than a 
shilling.) 

" Anyhow," said Liz, " ninepence is enough for 
it." And the man, assenting, gave it to me. It was 
a very good picture, and I have since had several 
copies taken of it. 

"Yes, ?//</,'' said Old Liz, when I regret d-d the 
absence of my Lady Lee, and talked with her about 
Bhoe-8tringS ;md old shoes, and how necessary it was 
to cry out " Pi-ru. ur/iJtu /" when you throw (hem, 

. That's the way tlie ( Jorgis always half 
thin see Vm get a horse-shoe oil' the r< 

and what do they do with it I Goes like, dinmii 
3 and nails it, up with the j/ints down, which, 
well In-known, brings all the bad luck th- 
flyiif in the air into the house, and taders chovihfi- 
nees [draws witches] like :: ! does rats. Now 

common sense ought to teach that the shoe ought to 
be put like horns, with the p'ints up. For if it's 
lucky to put real horns up, of course the horse-shoe 
goes the same drom [road]. And it's lucky to pick 
up a ivd string in the, morning, yes, or at any 
time; lut it's sure love from a girl if you do, 
specially silk. And if so be she gives you a red 
htring or cord, or a strip of red stuff, that means 
ihe '11 be bound to you and loves you." 



VI. 

STREET SKETCHES. 

LONDON, during hot weather, after the close of 
the wise season, suggests to the upper ten thousand, 
and to the lower twenty thousand who reflect their 
ways, and to the lowest millions who minister to them 
all, a scene of doleful dullness. I call the time which 
has passed wise, because that which succeeds is uni- 
versally known as the silly season. Then the editors 
in town have recourse to the American newspapers for 
amusing murders, while their rural brethren invent 
great gooseberries. Then the sea-serpent again lifts 
his awful head. I am always glad when this ster- 
ling inheritance of the Northern races reappears ; for 
while we have him I know that the capacity for swal- 
lowing a big bouncer, or for inventing one, is not lost. 
He is characteristic of a fine, bold race. Long may 
he wave ! It is true that we cannot lie as gloriously 
as our ancestors did about him. When the great 
news-dealer of Norse times had no home-news he took 
his lyre, and either spun a yarn about Vinland such 
as would smash the " Telegraph," or else sung about 
" that sea-snake tremendous curled, whose girth en- 
circles half the world." It is wonderful, it is awful, 
to consider how true we remain to the traditions of 
the older time. The French boast that they invented 
the canard. Let them boast. They also invented 
the shirt-collar ; but hoary legends say that an Eng- 



162 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

lishman invented the shirt for it, as well as the art of 
washing it. What the shirt is to the collar, that is 
the glorious, tough old Northern zaga, or maritime- 
Bpnn yarn, to the canard, or duck. The yarn will 
wash ; it passes into myth and history ; it fits ex- 
actly, because it was made to order ; its age and glory 
illustrate the survival of the fittest. 

I have, during three or four summers, remained a 
month in London after the family had taken flight to 
the sea-side. I stayed to finish books promised for 
the autumn. It is true that nearly four million of 
people remain in London during the later summer ; 
but it is wonderful what an influence the absence of a 
few exerts on them and on the town. Then you realize 
by the long lines of idle vehicles in the ranks how few 
people in this world can afford a cab ; then you find 
out how scanty is the number of those who buy goods 
at the really excellent shops ; and then you may finally 
find out by satisfactory experience, if you are inclined, 
to grumble at your lot in life or your fortune, how 
much better off you are than ninety-nine in a hun- 
dred of your fellow-murmurers at fate. 

It was my wont to walk out in the cool of the 
evening, to smoke my cigar in Regent's Park, seated 
on a bench, watching the children as they played 
about the clock-and-bull fountain, for it embraces 
these objects among its adornments, presented by 
Cowasie Jehanguire, who added to these magnificent 
Persian names the prosaic English postscript of Ready 
Money. In this his name sets forth the history of 
his Parsee people, who, from being heroic Ghebers, 
have come down to being bankers, who can "do" any 
Jew, and who might possibly tackle a Yankee so long 
as they kept out of New Jersey. One evening I 



STREET SKETCHES. 



163 



walked outside of the Park, passing by the Gloucester 
Bridge to a little walk or boulevard, where there are 
a few benches. I was in deep moon-shadow, formed 
by the trees ; only the ends of my boots shone like eyes 
in the moonlight as I put them out. After a while 
I saw a nice-looking young girl, of the humble-de- 
cent class, seated by me, and with her I entered into 
casual conversation. On the bench behind us were 
two young Italians, conversing in strongly marked 
Florentine dialect. They evidently thought that no 
one could understand them ; as they became more in- 
terested they spoke more distinctly, letting out se- 
crets which I by no means wished to hear. 

At that instant I recalled the famous story of Prince 
Bismarck and the Esthonian young ladies and the 
watch-key. I whispered to the girl, 

" When I say something to you in a language 
which you do not understand, answer ' Si ' as dis 
tinctly as you can." 

The damsel was quick to understand. An instant 
after I said, 

" Ha veduto il mio 'havallo la sera ? " 

"i&V 

There was a dead silence, and then a rise and a 
rush. My young friend rolled her eyes up at me, 
but said nothing. The Italians had departed with 
their awful mysteries. Then there came by a man 
who looked much worse. He was a truculent, un- 
tamable rough, evidently inspired with gin. At a 
glance I saw by the manner in which he carried his 
coat that he was a traveler, or one who lived on the 
roads. Seeing me he stopped, and said, grimly, 

" Do you love your Jesus ? " 

This is certainly a pious question ; but it was lit- 



164 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

uttered in a tone which intimated that if I did not 
answer it affirmatively I might expect anything but 
Christian treatment. I knew why the man uttered 
it. He had just come by an open-air preaching in 
the Park, and the phrase had, moreover, been recently 
chalked and stenciled by numerous zealous and busy 
nonconformists all over northwestern London. I 
smiled, and said, quietly, 

" Pal, mor rakker sd drovdn. Jd pukenus on the 
drum.' 1 (Don't talk so loud, brother. Go away 
quietly.") 

The man's whole manner changed. As if quite 
sober, he said, 

" Mang your shunaben, rye. But tute jins chom- 
any. KusJiti ratti!" (Beg your pardon, sir. But 
you do know a thing or two. Good-night !) 

" I was awfully frightened," said the young girl, 
as the traveler departed. " I 'm sure he meant to 
pitch into us. But what a wonderful way you have, 
sir, of sending people away ! I was n't so much as- 
tonished when you got rid of the Italians. I suppose 
ladies and gentlemen know Italian, or else they 
would n't go to the opera. But this man was a com- 
mon, bad English tramp; yet I'm sure he spoke to 
you in some kind of strange language, and you said 
something to him that changed him into as peaceable 
as could be. What was it ? " 

"It was gypsy, young lady, what the gypsies 
talk among themselves." 

" Do you know, sir, I think you 're the most mys- 
berious gentleman I ever met." 

" Very likely. Good-night." 

"Goodnight, sir." 



STREET SKETCHES. 165 

I was walking with my friend the Palmer, one aft- 
ernoon in June, in one of the several squares which 
lie to the west of the British Museum. As we went 
I saw a singular-looking, slightly-built man, lounging 
at a corner. He was wretchedly clad, and appeared 
to be selling some rudely-made, but curious contriv- 
ances of notched sticks, intended to contain flower- 
pots. He also had flower-holders made of twisted 
copper wire. But the greatest curiosity was the man 
himself. He had such a wild, wasted, wistful ex- 
pression, a face marked with a life of almost uncon- 
scious misery. And most palpable in it was the un- 
rest, which spoke of an endless struggle with life, and 
had ended by goading him into incessant wandering. 
I cannot imagine what people can be made of who 
can look at such men without emotion. 

" That is a gypsy," I said to the Palmer. " SarisTian^ 
pal!" 

The wanderer seemed to be greatly pleased to 
hear Romany. He declared that he was in the habit 
of talking it so much to himself when alone that his 
ordinary name was Romany Dick. 

" But if you come down to the Potteries, and want to 
find me, you mus'n't ask for Romany Dick, but Divius 
Dick." " That means Wild Dick." Yes." " And 
why?" Because I wander about so, and can never 
stay more than a night in any one place. I can't 
help it. I must keep going." He said this with that 
wistful, sad expression, a yearning as for something 
which he had never comprehended. Was it rest ? 

" And so I rakker Romany [talk gypsy to myself], 
when I 'm alone of a night, when the wind blows. 
It's better company than talkin* Gorginess. More 
sociable. He says no Jsay more sensible things 



166 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

Romaneskas than in English. You understand me ? " 
he exclaimed suddenly, with the same wistful stare. 

" Perfectly. It 's quite reasonable. It must be 
like having two heads instead of one, and being twice 
as knowing as anybody else." 

" Yes, that 's it. But everybody don't know it." 

" What do you ask for one of those flower-stands, 
Dick?" 

" A shillin', sir." 

" Well, here is my name and where I live, on an 
envelope. And here are two shillings. But if you 
chore mandy [cheat me] and don't leave it at the 
house, I '11 look you up in the Potteries, and koor tute 
[whip you]. 

He looked at me very seriously. " Ah, yes. You 
could Jcoor me kennd [whip me now]. But you 
couldn't have kooredmy dadas [whipped my father]. 
Leastways not afore he got his leg broken fightin' 
Lancaster Sam. You must have heard of my father, 
Single-stick Dick. But if your 're comin' down to the 
Potteries, don't come next Sunday. Come Sunday 
three weeks. My brother is star do kennd for chorin 
a gry [in prison for horse-stealing]. In three weeks 
he '11 be let out, and we 're goin' to have a great fam- 
ily party to welcome him, and we '11 be glad to see 
you. Do come." 

The flower-stand was faithfully delivered, but an- 
other engagement prevented an acceptance of the 
invitation, and I have never seen Dick since. 

I was walking along Marylebone Road, which al- 
ways seems to be a worn and wind-beaten street, 
very pretty once, and now repenting it; when just 
beyond Baker Street station I saw a gypsy van 



STREET SKETCHES. 167 

hung all round with baskets and wooden - ware. 
Smoke issued from its pipe, and it went along smok- 
ing like any careless pedestrian. It always seems 
strange to think of a family being thus conveyed 
with its dinner cooking, the children playing about 
the stove, over rural roads, past common and gorse 
and hedge, in and out of villages, and through Great 
Babylon itself, as if the family had a pied d terre, 
and were as secluded all the time as though they 
lived in Little Pedlington or Tinnecum. For they 
have just the same narrow range of gossip, and just 
the same set of friends, though the set are always on 
the move. Traveling does not make a cosmopolite. 

By the van strolled the lord and master, with his 
wife. I accosted him. 

44 Sarishan ? " 

" Sarishan rye ! " 

" Did you ever see me before ? Do you know 
me?" 

" No, sir." 

" I 'm sorry for that. I have a nice velveteen coat 
which I have been keeping for your father. How 's 
your brother Frank ? Traveling about Kingston, I 
suppose. As usual. But I don't care about trusting 
the coat to anybody who don't know me." 

" I '11 take it to him, safe enough, sir." 

" Yes, I dare say. On your back. And wear it 
yourself six months before you see him." 

Up spoke his wife : " That he shan't. I '11 take 
good care that the pooro mush [the old man] gets it 
all right, in a week." 

" Well, dye, I can trust you. You remember me. 
And, Anselo, here is my address. Come to the 
house in half an hour." 



168 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

In half an hour the housekeeper, said with a quiet 
Bmile, 

" If you please, sir, there 's a gentleman a gypsy 
gentleman wishes to see you." 

It is an English theory that the master can have 
no " visitors " who are not gentlemen. I must ad- 
mit that Anselo's dress was not what could be called 
gentlemanly. From his hat to his stout shoes he 
looked the impenitent gypsy and sinful poacher, un- 
affected and natural. There was a cutaway, sport- 
ing look about his coat which indicated that he had 
grown to it from boyhood " in woodis grene." He 
held a heavy-handled whip, a regular Romany tchupni 
or chuckni, which Mr. Borrow thinks gave rise to the 
word "jockey." I thought the same once, but have 
changed my mind, for there were " jockeys " in 
England before gypsies. Altogether, Anselo (which 
comes from Wenceslas) was a determined and vigorous 
specimen of an old-fashioned English gypsy, a type 
which, with all its faults, is not wanting in sundry 
manly virtues. 

I knew that Anselo rarely entered any houses save 
ale-houses, and that he had probably never before 
been in a study full of books, arms, and bric-a-brac. 
And he knew that I was aware of it. Now, if he had 
been more of a fool, like a red Indian or an old- 
fashioned fop, he would have affected a stoical indif- 
ference, for fear of showing his ignorance. As it was, 
he sat down in an arm-chair, glanced about him, and 
said just the right thing. 

" It must be a pleasant thing, at the end of the 
day, after one has been running about, to come home 
to such a room as this, so full of fine things, and 
sit down in such a comfortable chair." "Will I have 



STREET SKETCHES. 



169 



a glass of old ale ? Yes, I thank you." " That is 
Tcushto levinor [good ale]. I never tasted better." 
" Would I rather have wine or spirits ? No, I thank 
you ; such ale as this is fit for a king." 

Here Anselo's keen eye suddenly rested on some- 
thing which he understood. 

44 What a beautiful little rifle ! That 's what I call 
a rinkno yag-enyree [pretty gun]." 

44 Has it been a wafedo wen [hard winter], An- 
eelo?" 

44 It has been a dreadful winter, sir. We have 
been hard put to it sometimes for food. It 's dread- 
ful to think of. I 've acti'lly seen the time when I 
was almost desperated, and if I 'd had such a gun as 
that I 'm afraid, if I 'd been tempted, I could a-found 
it in my heart to knock over a pheasant." 

I looked sympathetically at Anselo. The idea of 
his having been brought to the very brink of such a 
terrible temptation and awful crime was touching. 
He met the glance with the expression of a good man, 
who had done no more than his duty, closed his eyes, 
and softly shook his head. Then he took another 
glass of ale, as if the memory of the pheasants or 
something connected with the subject had been too 
much for him, and spoke : 

" I came here on my horse. But he 's an ugly old 
white punch. So as not to discredit you, I left him 
standing before a gentleman's house, two doors off." 

Here Anselo paused. I acknowledged this touch- 
ing act of thoughtful delicacy by raising my glass. 
He drank again, then resumed : 

48 But I feel uneasy about leaving a horse by him- 
self in the streets of London. He '11 stand like a 
driven nail wherever you put him but there's al- 
ways plenty of claw-hammers to draw such nails." 



170 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

" Don't be afraid, Anselo. The park-keeper will 
not let anybody take him through the gates. I '11 
pay for him if he goes." 

But visions of a stolen horse seemed to haunt An- 
selo. One would have thought that something of the 
kind had been familiar to him. So I sent for the 
velveteen coat, and, folding it on his arm, he mounted 
the old white horse, while waving an adieu with the 
heavy-handled whip, rode away in the mist, and was 
seen no more. 

Farewell, farewell, thou old brown velveteen ! I 
had thee first in by-gone years, afar, hunting fero- 
cious t'ox and horrid hare, near Brighton, on the 
Downs, and wore thee well on many a sketching tour 
to churches old and castles dark or gray, when win- 
ter went with all his raines wete. Farewell, my coat, 
and benedicite! I bore thee over France unto Mar- 
seilles, and on the steamer where we took aboard tw 
hundred Pavnim pilgrims of Mahouml. Farewell, 
my coat, and benedicite! Thou wert in Napl- 
great Virgil's tomb, and borest dust from Posilippo's 
grot, and hast boon wetted by the dainty spray from 
bays and shoals of old Etrurian name. Farewell, my 
coat, and benedicite ! And thou wert in the old 
Egyptian realm: I had thee on that morning 'neath 
the palms when long I lingered where of yore had 
stood the rose-red city, half as old as time. Farewell, 
my coat, and benedicite! It was a lady called thee 
into life. She said, Methinks ye need a velvet coat. 
It is a seemly guise to ride to hounds. Another gave 
me whip and silvered spurs. Now all have vanished 
in the darkening past. Ladies and all are gone into 
the gloom. Farewell, my coat, and benedicite J 
Thou 'st had a venturous and traveled life, for thou 



STREET SKETCHES. 171 

wert once in Moscow in the snow. A true Bohemian 
thou hast ever been, and as a right Bohemian thou 
wilt die, the garment of a roving Romany. Fain 
would I see and hear what thou 'rt to know of reck- 
less riding and the gypsy tan, of camps in dark green 
lanes, afar from towns. Farewell, mine coat, and 
benedicite I 



VII. 

OF CERTAIN GENTLEMEN AND GYPSIES. 

ONE morning I was walking with Mr. Thomas 
Carlyle and Mr. Froude. We went across Hyde 
Park, and paused to rest on the bridge. This is a 
remarkable place, since there, in the very heart of 
London, one sees a view which is perfectly rural. 
The old oaks rise above each other like green waves, 
the houses in the distance are country -like, while over 
the trees, and far away, a village-looking spire com- 
pletes the picture. I think that it was Mr. Froude 
who called my attention to the beauty of the view, 
and I remarked that it needed only a gypsy tent and 
the curling smoke to make it in all respects perfectly 
English. 

" You have paid some attention to gypsies," said 
Mr. Carlyle. " They 're not altogether so bad a 
people as many think. In Scotland, we used to 
see many of them. I '11 not say that they were not 
rovers and reivers, but they could be honest at times. 
The country folk feared them, but those who made 
friends wi' them had no cause to complain of their 
conduct. Once there was a man who was persuaded 
to lend a gypsy a large sum of money. My father 
knew the man. It was to be repaid at a certain 
time. The day came ; the gypsy did not. And 
months passed, and still the creditor had nothing of 
money but the memory of it ; and ye remember 



OF CERTAIN GENTLEMEN AND GYPSIES. 173 

4 nessun maggior dolore,' that there 's na greater 
grief than to remember the siller ye once had. Weel, 
one day the man was surprised to hear that his Men' 
the gypsy wan ted to see him interview, ye call it 
in America. And the gypsy explained that, having 
been arrested, and unfortunately detained, by some 
little accident, in preeson, he had na been able to 
keep his engagement. 'If ye '11 just gang wi' me,' 
said the gypsy, 'aw '11 mak' it all right.' 4 Mon, aw 
wull,' said the creditor, they were Scotch, ye know, 
and spoke in deealect. So the gypsy led the way to 
the house which he had inhabited, a cottage which 
belonged to the man himself to whom he owed the 
money. And there he lifted up the hearthstone ; the 
hard-stane they call it in Scotland, and it is called so 
in the prophecy of Thomas of Ercildowne. And un- 
der the hard-stane there was an iron pot. It was full 
of gold, and out of that gold the gypsy carle paid his 
creditor. Ye wonder how 't was come by? Well, 
ye '11 have heard it 's best to let sleeping dogs lie." 

" Yes. And what was said of the Poles who had, 
during the Middle Ages, a reputation almost as good 
as that of gypsies ? Ad secretas Poli, curas extendere 
noli.' 1 '' (Never concern your soul as to the secrets of a 
Pole.) 

Mr. Carlyle's story reminds me that Walter Simp- 
son, in his history of them, says that the Scottish 
gypsies have ever been distinguished for their grati- 
tude to those who treated them with civility and 
kindness, anent which he tells a capital story, while 
other instances sparkle here and there with many 
brilliant touches in his five hundred-and-fifty-page 
volume. 

I have more than once met with Romanys, when 



174 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

I was in the company of men who, like Carlyle and 
Bilderdijk, " were also in the world of letters known," 
or who might say, " We have deserved to be." One 
of the many memories of golden days, all in the 
merrie tyine of summer song in England, is of the 
Thames, and of a pleasure party in a little steam- 
launch. It was a weenie affair, just room for six 
forward outside the cubby, which was called the 
cabin ; and of these six, one was Mr. Roebuck, 
" the last Englishman," as some one has called him, 
but as the late Lord Lytton applies the same term to 
one of his characters about the time of the Conquest, 
its accuracy may be doubted. Say the last type of a 
certain phase of the Englishman ; say that Roebuck 
was the last of the old iron and oak men, the triplex 
ces et robur chiefs of the Gobbet kind, and the phrase 
may pass. But it will only pass over into a new va- 
riety of true manhood. However frequently the last 
Englishman may die, I hope it will be ever said of 
him, Le roi est mart, vive le roi ! I have had talks 
with Lord Lytton on gypsies. He, too, was once a 
Romany rye in a small way, and in the gay May 
1 ley day of his young manhood once went off with a 
band of Romanys, and passed weeks in their tents, 
no bad thing, either, for anybody. I was more than 
once tempted to tell him the strange fact that, though 
he had been among the black people and thought 
he had learned their language, what they had im- 
posed upon him for that was not Romany, but cant, 
o>r English thieves' slang. For what is given, in good 
faith, as the, <rypsy tongue in " Paul Clifford" and the 
"Disowned,'' is only the same old mumping Iwnnick 
which was palmed off on Bampfylde Moore Carew; 
or which he palmed on his readers, as the secret of 



OF CERTAIN GENTLEMEN AND GYPSIES. 175 

the Roms. But what is the use or humanity of desil- 
lusioning an author by correcting an error forty years 
old. If one could have corrected it in the proof, a la 
bonne heure ! Besides, it was of no particular conse- 
quence to anybody whether the characters in u Paul 
Clifford " called a clergyman a patter-cove or a rasJiai. 
It is a supreme moment of triumph for a man when 
he discovers that his specialty whatever it be 
is not of such value as to be worth troubling anybody 
with it, As for Everybody, he is fair game. 

The boat went up the Thames, and I remember 
that the river was, that morning, unusually beautiful. 
It is graceful, as in an outline, even when leaden 
with November mists, or iron-gray in the drizzle of 
December, but under the golden sunlight of June it 
\s lovely. It becomes every year, with gay boating 
parties in semi-fancy dresses, more of a carnival, in 
which the carnivalers and their carnivalentines as- 
sume a more decided character. It is very strange 
to see this tendency of the age to unfold itself in new- 
festival forms, when those who believe that there can 
never be any poetry or picturing in life but in the 
past are wailing over the vanishing of May-poles and 
)ld English sports. There may be, from time to 
time, a pause between the acts ; the curtain may be 
down a little longer than usual ; but in the long run 
the world-old play of the Peoples' Holiday will go on, 
as it has been going ever since Satan suggested that 
little apple-stealing excursion to Eve, which, as ex- 
plained by the Talmudists, was manifestly the direct 
pause of all the flirtations and other dreadful doings 
in all little outings down to the present clay, in the 
drawing-room or " on the leads," world without end. 

And as the boat went along by Weybridge we 



176 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

passed a bank by which was a small gypsy camp ; 
tents and wagons, donkeys and all, reflected in the 
silent stream, as much as were the swans in the fore- 
water. And in the camp was a tall, handsome, wild 
beauty, named Britannia, who knew me well ; a dam- 
sel fond of larking, with as much genuine devil's gun- 
powder in her as would have made an entire pack 
or a Chinese hundred of sixty-four of the small crack- 
( rs known as fast girls, in or around society. She 
was a splendid creature, long and lithe and lissom, 
but well rounded, of a figure suggestive of leaping 
hedges ; and as the sun shone on her white teeth and 
burning black eyes, there was a hint of biting, too, 
about her. She lay coiled and basking, in feline fash- 
ion, in the sun ; but at sight of me on the boat, up 
she bounded, and ran along the bank, easily keeping 
up with the steamer, and crying out to me in Rom- 
anes. 

Now it just so happened that I by no means felt 
certain that all of the company present were such 
Denial Bohemians as to appreciate anything like the 
joyous intimacy which Britannia was manifesting, as 
she, Atalanta-like, coursed along. Consequently, I 
was not delighted with her attentions. 

" What a fine girl I " said Mr. Roebuck. " How 
well she would look on the stage ! She seems to know 
you." 

" Certainly," said one of the ladies, " or she would 
not be speaking her language. Why don't you an- 
swer her ? Let us hear a conversation." 

Thus adjured, I answered, 

"Miri pi'ii, niiri kushti pen, leng lei tute, md rak- 
tier sd drovdn ! Or ma ralcker Romaneskas. Man 
di/cesa te rdtiia shan akai. Miri kameli man kait 



OF CERTAIN GENTLEMEN AND GYPSIES. 177 

mandy ladye ! " (My sister, my nice, sweet sister ! 
devil take you! don't liallo at me like that! Or 
else don't talk Romany. Don't you see there are 
ladies here ? My dear, don't put me to shame !) 

" Pen the rani ta wusser mandy a trin-grushi 
who op, hallo!" (Tell the lady to shy me a shil- 
ling whoop !) cried the fast damsel. 

"Pa miri duvels kdm, pen o bero se ta duro. 
Mandy 7 de tute a pash-korauna keratti if tu tevel 
ja. G-orgie shan i foki kavakoi ! " (For the Lord's 
sake, sister ! the boat is too far from shore. I '11 
give you half a crown this evening if you '11 clear out. 
These be Gentiles, these here.) 

u It seems to be a melodious language," said Mr. 
Roebuck, greatly amused. " What are you saying ? " 

" I am telling her to hold her tongue, and go," 

" But how on earth does it happen that you speak 
such a language?" inquired a lady. "I always 
thought that the gypsies only talked a kind of Eng- 
lish slang, and this sounds like a foreign tongue." 

All this time Britannia, like the Cork Leg, never 
tired, but kept on the chase, neck and neck, till we 
reached a lock, when, with a merry laugh like a child, 
she turned on her track and left us. 

" Mr. L.'s proficiency in Romany," said Mr. Roe- 
buck, " is well known to me. I have heard him 
spoken of as the successor to George Borrow." 

" That," I replied, " I do not deserve. There are 
other gentlemen in England who are by far my su- 
periors in knowledge of the people." 

And I spoke very sincerely. Apropos of Mr. 
George Borrow, I knew him, and a grand old fellow 
he was, a fresh and hearty giant, holding his six 
feet two or three inches as uprightly at eighty as he 

12 



178 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

ever had at eighteen. I believe that was his age, but 
may he wrong. Borrow was like one of the old 
Norse heroes, whom he so much admired, or an old 1 
fashioned gypsy bruiser, full of craft and merry tricks. 
One of these he played on me, and I bear him no mal- 
ice for it. The manner of the joke was this : I had 
written a book on the English gypsies and their lan- 
guage ; but before I announced it, I wrote a letter to 
Father George, telling him that I proposed to print 
it, and asking his permission to dedicate it to him. 
He did not answer the letter, but " worked the tip " 
promptly enough, for he immediately announced in 
the newspapers on the following Monday his " Word- 
Book of the Romany Language," " with many pieces 
in gypsy, illustrative of the way of speaking and 
thinking of the English gypsies, with specimens of 
their poetry, and an account of various things relat- 
ing to gypsy life in England." This was exactly 
what I had told him that my book would contain ; for 
I intended originally to publish a vocabulary. Father 
George covered the track by not answering my letter; 
but I subsequently ascertained that it had been faith- 
fully delivered to him by a gentleman from whom I 
obtained the information. 

It was like the contest between Hildebrand the 
elder and his son : 

" A ready trick tried Hildebrand, 
That old, gniy-lx'nnlccl man; 
For when the younger raised to strike, 
Beneath his sword he ran." 

And, like the son, I had no ill feeling about it. 
My obligations to him for " Lavengro " and the "Rom- 
any Rye " and his other works are such as I owe to 
few men. I have enjoyed gypsying more than any 



OF CERTAIN GENTLEMEN AND GYPSIES. 179 

Bport in ,the world, and I owe my love of it all to 
George Borrow. I have since heard that a part of 
Mr. Borrow's " Romano Lavo-Lil " had been in man- 
uscript for thirty years, and that it might never 
have been published but for my own work. I hope 
that this is true ; for I am sincerely proud to think 
that I may have been in any way, directly or indi- 
rectly, the cause of his giving it to the world. I 
would gladly enough have burnt my own book, as I 
said, with a hearty laugh, when I saw the announce- 
ment of the " Lavo-Lil," if it would have pleased 
the old Romany rye, and I never spoke a truer 
word. He would not have believed it ; but it would 
have been true, all the same. 

I well remember the first time I met George Bor- 
row. It was in the British Museum, and I was in- 
troduced to him by Mrs. Estelle Lewis, now dead, 
the well known-friend of Edgar A. Poe. He was 
seated at a table, and had a large old German folio 
open before him. We talked about gypsies, and I 
told him that I had unquestionably found the word 
for " green," shelno, in use among the English Rom- 
any. He assented, and said that he knew it. I 
mention this as a proof of the manner in which the 
" Romano Lavo-Lil " must have been hurried, be- 
cause he declares in it that there is no English gypsy 
word for " green." In this work he asserts that the 
English gypsy speech does not probably amount to 
fourteen hundred words. It is a weakness with the 
Romany rye fraternity to believe that there are no 
words in gypsy which they do not know. I am sure 
that my own collection contains nearly four thou- 
sand Anglo-Romany terms, many of which I feared 
were doubtful, but which I am constantly verifying 



180 ESGLISU GYPSIES. 

America is a far better place in which to study the 
laninia^e than England. As an old Scotch gypsy 
said to me lately, the deepest and cleverest old gyp- 
sies all corae over here to America, where they have 
grown rich, and built the old language up again. 

I knew a gentleman in London who was a man of 
extraordinary energy. Having been utterly ruined, 
at seventy years of age, by a relative, he left Eng- 
land, was absent two or three years in a foreign coun- 
try, during which time he made in business some 
fifty thousand pounds, and, returning, settled down in 
England. He had been in youth for a long time the 
most intimate friend of George Borrow, who was, he- 
said, a very wild and eccentric youth. One night, 
when skylarking about London, Borrow was pursued 
by the police, as he wished to be, even as Panurge 
so planned as to be chased by the night-watch. He 
was very tall and strong in those days, a trained 
shoulder-hitter, and could run like a deer. He was 
hunted to the Thames, " and there they thought they 
had him." But the Romany rye made for the edge, 
and, leaping into the wan water, like the Squyre in 
the. old ballad, swam to the other side, and escaped. 

I have conversed with Mr. Borrow on many sub- 
jects, horses, gypsies, and Old Irish. Anent which 
latter subject I have heard him declare that he doubted 
whether there was any man living who could really 
read an old Irish manuscript. I have seen the same 
statement made by another writer. My personal im- 
pressions of Mr. Borrow were very agreeable, and I 
was pleased to learn afterwards from Mrs. Lewis that 
he had expressed himself warmly as regarded myself. 
As he was not invariably disposed to like those whom 
he met, it is a source of great pleasure to me t 



OF CERTAIN GENTLEMEN AND GYPSIES. 181 

reflect that I have nothing but pleasant memories of 
the good old Romany rye, the Nestor of gypsy gen- 
tlemen. It is commonly reported among gypsies that 
Mr. Borrow was one by blood, and that his real name 
was Boro, or great. This is not true. He was of 
pure English extraction. 

When I first met "George Eliot" and G. H. 
Lewes, at their house in North Bank, the lady turned 
the conversation almost at once to gypsies. They 
spoke of having visited the Zincali in Spain, and of 
several very curious meetings with the Chabos. Mr. 
Lewes, in fact, seldom met me and we met very 
often about town, and at many places, especially at 
the Triibners' without conversing on the Romanys. 
The subject evidently had for him a special fascina- 
tion. I believe that I have elsewhere mentioned that 
after I returned from Russia, and had given him, by 
particular request, an account of my visits to the gyp- 
sies of St. Petersburg and Moscow, he was much 
struck by the fact that I had chiromanced to the 
Romany clan of the latter city. To tell the fortunes 
of gypsy girls was, he thought, the refinement of pre- 
sumption. " There was in this world nothing so im- 
pudent as a gypsy when determined to tell a fortune ; 
and the idea of not one, but many gypsy girls be- 
lieving earnestly in my palmistry was like a right- 
eous retribution." 

The late Tom Taylor had, while a student at Cam- 
bridge, been aficionado, or smitten, with gypsies, and 
made a manuscript vocabulary of Romany words, 
which he allowed me to use, and from which I ob- 
tained several which were n^w to me. This fact 
should make all smart gypsy scholars " take tent " 
and heed as to believing that they know everything. 



182 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

I have many Anglo-Romany words purely Hindi as 
to origin which I have verified again and again, yet 
which have never appeared in print. Thus far the 
Romany vocabulary field has been merely scratched 
over. 

Who that knows London knoweth not Sir Patrick 
Colquhoun ? I made his acquaintance in 1848, when, 
coming over from student-life in Paris and the Revo- 
lution, I was most kindly treated by his family. A 
glorious, tough, widely experienced man he was even 
in early youth. For then he already bore the envi- 
able reputation of being the first amateur sculler on 
the Thames, the first gentleman light-weight boxer in 
England, a graduate with honors of Cambridge, a 
Doctor Ph. of Heidelberg, a diplomat, and a lin- 
guist who knew Arabic, Persian, and Gaelic, Modern 
Greek and the Omnium Botherum tongues. They 
don't make such men nowadays, or, if they do, they 
leave out the genial element. 

Years had passed, and I had returned to London in 
1870, and found Sir Patrick living, as of yore, in 
the Temple, where I once and yet again and again 
dined with him. It was in the early days of this 
new spring of English life that we found ourselves by 
chance at a boat-race on the Thames. It was on the 
Thames, by his invitation, that I had twenty years 
before first seen an English regatta, and had a place 
in the gayly decked, superbly luncheoned barge of his 
club. It is a curious point in English character that 
the cleverest people do not realize or understand how 
festive and genial they really are, or how gayly and 
picturesquely (hey conduct I heir spoils. It is a gen- 
erally accepted doctrine with them that they do this 
kind of thing better in France ; they believe sincerely 



OF CERTAIN GENTLEMEN AND GYPSIES. 183 

that they take their own amusements sadly ; it is the 
tone, the style, with the wearily-witty, dreary clowns 
of the weekly press, in their watery imitations of 
Thackeray's worst, to ridicule all English festivity 
and merry-making, as though sunshine had faded out 
of life, and God and Nature were dead, and in their 
place a great wind-bag Jesuit-Mallock were crying, in 
tones tainted with sulphuretted hydrogen, "Ah bah ! " 
Reader mine, I have seen many a fete in my time, 
all the way from illuminations of Paris to the Khe- 
dive's fifteen-million-dollar spree in 1873 and the last 
grand flash of the Roman-candle carnival of 1846, 
but for true, hearty enjoyment and quiet beauty give 
me agnerry party on the Thames. Give me, I say, 
its sparkling waters, its green banks, the joyous, beau- 
tiful girls, the hearty, handsome men. Give me the 
boats, darting like fishes, the gay cries. And oh 
oh ! give me the Alsopp's ale in a quart mug, and 
not a remark save of approbation when I empty it. 

I had met Sir Patrick in the crowd, and our conver- 
sation turned on gypsies. When living before-time 
in Roumania, he had Romany servants, and learned 
a little of their language. Yes, he was inclined to be 
"affected" into the race, and thereupon we went 
gypsy ing. Truly, we had not far to seek, for just 
outside the crowd a large and flourishing community 
of the black-blood had set itself up in the pivlioi 
(cocoa-nut) or Jcashta (stick) business, and as it was 
late in the afternoon, and the entire business-world 
was about as drunk as mere beer could make it, the 
scene was not unlively. At that time I was new to 
England, and unknown to every gypsy on the ground. 
In after-days I learned to know them well, very well T 
f or they were chiefly Coopers and their congeners, 



184 ENGLISH GYPSIES, 

who came to speak of me as their rye and own spe- 
cial property or proprietor, an allegiance which in- 
volved on one side an amount of shillings and beer 
which concentrated might have set up a charity, but 
which was duly reciprocated on the other by jocular 
tenures of cocoa-nuts, baskets, and choice and deep 
words in the language of Egypt. 

As we approached the cock-shy, where sticks were 
cast at cocoa-nuts, a young gypsy chai, whom I learned 
to know in after-days as Athalia Cooper, asked me to 
buy some sticks. A penny a throw, all the cocoa-nuts 
I could hit to be my own. I declined ; she became 
urgent, jolly, riotous, insistive. I endured it well, for 
I held the winning cards. Qui minus proper e^ninus 
prospere. And then, as her voice rose crescendo into 
a bawl, so that all the Romanys around laughed aloud 
to see the green Gorgio so chaffed and bothered, I 
bent me low, and whispered softly in her ear a single 
monosyllable. 

Why are all those sticks dropped so suddenly? 
Why does Athalia in a second become sober, and 
stand up staring at me, all her chaff and urgency for- 
gotten. Quite polite and earnest now. But there is 
joy behind in her heart. This is a game, a jolly 
game, and no mistake. And uplifting her voice again, 
as the voice of one who findeth an exceeding great 
treasure even in the wilderness, she cried aloud, 
"It 's a Romany rye!" 

The spiciest and saltest and rosiest of Sir Patrick's 
own stories, told after dinner over his own old port to 
a special conventicle of clergymen about town, was 
never received with such a roar of delight as that cry 
of Athalia's was by the Romany dan. I : p went three 
cheers at the find ; further afield went the shout pro- 



OF CERTAIN GENTLEMEN AND GYPSIES. 185 

claiming the discovery of an aristocratic stranger of 
their race, a rye, who was to them as wheat, a 
gypsy gentleman. Neglecting business, they threw 
down their sticks, and left their cocoanuts to grin in 
solitude ; the dyes turned aside from fortune-telling 
to see what strange fortune had sent such a visitor. 
In ten minutes Sir Patrick and I were surrounded 
by such a circle of sudden admirers and vehement 
applauders, as it seldom happens to any mortal to 
acquire out of Ireland at such exceedingly short 
notice and on such easy terms. 

They were not particular as to what sort of a gypsy 
I was, or where I came from, or any nonsense of that 
sort, you know. It was about cerevisia vincit omnia, 
or the beery time of day with them, and they cared 
not for anything. I was extremely welcome ; in 
short, there was poetry in me. I had come down on 
them by a way that was dark and a trick that was 
vain, in the path of mystery, and dropped on Athalia 
and picked her up. It was gypsily done and very 
creditable to me, and even Sir Patrick was regarded 
as one to be honored as an accomplice. It is a charm- 
ing novelty in every life to have the better class of 
one's own kind come into it, and nobody feels so 
keenly as a jolly Romany that jucundum nihil est 
nisi quodreflcit varietas naught pleases us without 
variety. 

Then and there I drew to me the first threads of 
what became in after-days a strange and varied skein 
of humanity. There was the Thames upon a holiday. 
Now I look back to it, I ask, Ubi sunt f (Where are 
they all?) Joshua Cooper, as good and earnest a 
Rom as ever lived, in his grave, with more than one 
of those who made my acquaintance by hurrahing for 



186 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

me. Some in America, some wandering wide. Yet 
the iv by Wey bridge still the Thames runs on. 

By that sweet river I made many a song. One of 
these, to the tune of " Waves in Sunlight Dancing," 
rises and falls in memory like a fitful fairy coming 
and going in green shadows, and that it may not 
perish utterly I here give it a place : 

AVELLA PAUL PANI. 

AV* kushto parl o pani, 

Av' kushto mir' akai ! 
Mi kameli chovihani, 

Avel ke tiro rye ! 

Shan raklia rinkenidiri, 

Mukkellan rinkeni se ; 
Kek rakli 'dre i temia 

Se rinkenidiri mi. 

Shan dudnidiri yakka, 

Mukkelan dudeni ; 
Kek yakk peshel' sa kushti 

Pa miro kameli zi. 

Shan balia longi diri, 

Mtikk 'lende bori 'pre*, 
Kek waveri raklia balia, 

Te lian man opre. 

Yoi lela angustrini, 

I miri tacheni, 
Kek waver mush jinella, 

Sa dovo covva se. 

Ad re, ad re o doeyav 

1'iilriiiia pcllrlan, 
Kcnnii yek dmmer kerdo 

wavero well' an. 

Te wenna butidiri, 
Ke jana sig akoi 



OF CERTAIN GENTLEMEN AND GYPSIES. 187 

Sa sig sa yeck si gillo 
Shan Avavcri adoi. 

Avella parl o pani, 

Avella sig akai ! 
Mi kamli tani-raui 

Avcll' ke tiro rye 



COME OVER THE RIVER. 

love, come o'er the water, 
O love, where'er you be ! 

My own sweetheart, my darling, 
Come over the river to me ! 

If any girls are fairer, 

Then fairer let them he ; 
No maid in all the country 

Is half so fair to me. 

If other eyes are brighter, 
Then brighter let them shine ; 

1 know that none are lighter 
Upon this heart of mine. 

If other's locks are longer, 
Then longer let them grow ; 

Hers are the only fish-lines 
Which ever caught me so. 

She wears upon her finger 

A ring we know so well, 
And we and that ring only 

Know what the ring can tell. 

From trees into the water 
Leaves fall and float away, 

So kisses come and leave us, 
A thousand in a day. 

Yet though they come by thousand*, 
Yet still they show their face ; 



188 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

As soon as one has left us 
Another fills its place. 

love, come o'er the water, 
O love, where'er you be ! 

My own sweetheart, my darling, 
Come over the river to me I 



WELSH GYPSIES. 
I. 

MAT WOODS THE FIDDLER. 

THE gypsies of Wales are to those of England 
what the Welsh themselves are to the English ; more 
antique and quaint, therefore to a collector of human 
bric-a-brac more curious. The Welsh Rom is spe- 
cially grateful for kindness or courtesy ; he is deeper 
as to language, and preserves many of the picturesque 
traits of his race which are now so rapidly vanishing. 
But then he has such excellent opportunity for gypsy- 
ing. In Wales there are yet thousands of acres of 
wild land, deep ravines, rocky corners, and roadside 
nooks, where he can boil the kettle and hatch the 
tan, or pitch his tent, undisturbed by the rural police- 
man. For it is a charming country, where no one 
need weary in summer, when the days are long, or in 
early autumn, 

" When the barley is ripe, 
And the frog doth pipe, 
In golden stripe 
And green all dressed ; 
When the red apples 
Roll in the chest." 

Then it is pleasant walking in Wales, and there too 
at times, between hedge-rows, you may meet with the 
Romany. 



190 WELSH GYPSIES. 

I was at Aberystwith by the sea, and one afternoon 
we went, a party of three gentlemen and three ladies, 
in a char-a-banc, or wagonette, to drive. It was a 
pleasant afternoon, and we had many a fine view of 
distant mountains, on whose sides were mines of lead 
with silver, and of which there were legends from 
the time of Queen Elizabeth. The hills looked 
leaden and blue in the distance, while the glancing 
sea far beyond recalled silver, for the alchemy of 
imagery, at least, is never wanting to supply ideal 
metals, though the real may show a sad deficit in the 
returns. 

As we drove we suddenly overtook a singular party, 
the first of whom was the leader, who had lagged be- 
hind. He was a handsome, slender, very dark young 
man, carrying a violin. Before him went a little open 
cart, in which lay an old woman, and by her a harp 
With it walked a good-looking gypsy girl, and an- 
other young man, not a gypsy. He was by far the 
handsomest young fellow, in form and features, 
whom I ever met among the agricultural class in" 
England ; we called him a peasant Apollo. It be- 
came evident that the passional affinity which had 
drawn this rustic to the gypsy girl, and to the roads, 
was according to the law of natural selection, for 
they were wonderfully well matched. The young 
man had the grace inseparable from a fine figure and 
a handsome face, while the girl was tall, lithe, and 
pantherine, with the diavolesque charm which, though 
often attributed by fast-fashionable novelists to their 
heroines, is really never found except among the low- 
born beauties of nature. It is the beauty of the Imp 
and of the Serpent ; it fades with letters ; it dies in 
the drawing-room or on the stage. You are mistaken 




MAT WOODS THE FIDDLER. 191 

when you think you see it coming out of the syna- 
gogue, unless it be a very vulgar one. Your Lahova 
has it not, despite her black eyes, for she is too clever 
and too conscious ; the devil-beauty never knows 
how to read, she is unstudied and no actress. Rachel 
and the Bernhardt have it not, any more than Saint 
Agnes or Miss Blanche Lapin. It is not of good or 
of evil, or of culture, which is both ; it is all and only 
of nature, and it does not know itself. 

As the wagonette stopped I greeted the young 
man at first in English, then in Romany. When he 
heard the gypsy tongue he started, his countenance 
expressing the utmost surprise and delight. As if 
he could hardly believe in such a phenomenon he in- 
quired, "Romany?" and as I nodded assent, he 
clasped my hand, the tears coming into his eyes. Such 
manifestations are not common among gypsies, but I 
can remember how one, the wife of black Ben Lee, 
was thus surprised and affected. How well I recall 
the time and scene, by the Thames, in the late 
twilight, when every tree and twig was violet black 
against the amber sky, where the birds were chirp- 
chattering themselves to roost and rest, and the river 
rippled and murmured a duet with the evening breeze. 
I was walking homeward to Oatlands when I met 
the tawny Sinaminta, bearing her little stock of bas- 
kets to the tent and van which I had just quitted, 
and where Ben and his beautiful little boy were light- 
ing the al fresco fire. " I have prayed to see this 
day ! " exclaimed the gypsy woman. " I have so 
wanted to see the Romany rye of the Coopers. And 
I laid by a little delaben, a small present, for you when 
we should meet. It 's a photograph of Ben and me 
and our child." I might have forgotten the evening 



192 WELSH GYPSIES. 

and the amber sky, rippling river and dark-green 
hedge-rows, but for this strange meeting and greeting 
of an unknown friend, but a few kind words fixed 
them all for life. That must be indeed a wonderful 
landscape which humanity does not make more im- 
pressive. 

I spoke but a few words to the gypsy with the 
violin, and we drove on to a little wayside inn, where 
we alighted and rested. After a while the gypsies 
came along. 

"And now, if you will, let us have a real frolic," I 
said to my friends. A word was enough. A quart 
of ale, and the fiddle was set going, and I sang in 
Romany, and the rustic landlord and his household 
wondered what sort of guests we could be. That they 
had never before entertained such a mixed party I 
can well believe. Here, on one hand, were indubi- 
table swells, above their usual range ; there, on the 
other, were the dusky vagabonds of the road ; and it 
could be no common condescending patronage, for I 
was speaking neither Welsh nor English, and our 
friendly fraternity was evident. Yes, many a time, 
in England, have I seen the civil landlady or the 
neat-handed Phillis awed with bewilderment, as I 
have introduced Plato Buckland, or the most dis- 
reputable-looking but oily yea, glycerine-politeful 
old Windsor Frog, into the parlor, and conversed 
with him in mystic words. Such an event is a rare 
joy to the gypsy. For he loves to be lifted up among 
men ; he will tell you with pride of the times when he 
was pointed at, and people said, " He 's the man ! " and 
how a real gentleman once invited him into his house 
and gave him a glass of wine. But to enter the best 
room of the familiar tavern, to order, in politest but 



MAT WOODS THE FIDDLER. 193 

imperative tones, "beer" sixpenny beer for him- 
self and " the other gentleman," is indeed bliss. Then, 
in addition to the honor of moving in distinguished 
society, before the very eyes and in the high places 
of those who have hitherto always considered him as 
a lowly cuss, the Romany realizes far more than the 
common peasant the contrast-contradiction, or the 
humor of the drama, its bit of mystification, and es- 
pecially the mystification of the house-folk. This is 
unto him the high hour of the soul, and it is not for- 
gotten. It passes unto the golden legends of the 
heart, and you are tenderly enshrined in it. 

Once, when I was wandering afoot with old Cooper, 
we stopped at an inn, and in a room by ourselves or- 
dered luncheon. The gypsy might have had poultry 
of the best ; he preferred cold pork. While the at* 
tendant was in the room, he sat with exemplary dig- 
nity at the table ; but as the girl left, he followed her 
step sounds with his ears, like a dog, moved his 
head, glanced at me with a nod, turned sideways 
from the table, and, putting his plate on his knees, 
proceeded to eat without a fork. 

" For it is n't proper for me to eat at the table 
with you, or as you do." 

The Welsh gypsy played well, and his sister touched 
the harp and sang, the ale circulated, and the villagers, 
assembling, gazed in a crowd into the hall. Then the 
girl danced solo, just as I have seen her sisters do in 
Egypt and in Russia, to her brother's fiddling. Even 
so of old, Syrian and Egyptian girls haunted gardens 
and taverns, and danced pas seul all over the Roman 
empire, even unto Spain, behaving so gypsily that wise 
men have conjectured that they were gypsies in very 
truth. And who shall say they were not ? For it is 

13 



194 WELSH GYPSIES. 

possible that prehistorically, and beyond all records 
of Persian Luri and Syrian Ballerine and Egyptian 
Almeh, there was all over the East an outflowing of 
these children of art from one common primeval In- 
dian stock. From one fraternity, in Italy, at the 
present day, those itinerant pests, the hand-organ 
players, proceed to the ends of the earth and to the 
gold-diggings thereof, and time will yet show that 
before all time, or in its early dawn, there were root- 
born Romany itinerants singing, piping, and dancing 
unto all the known world ; yea, and into the unknown 
darkness beyond, in partibm infidelium. 

A gentleman who was in our party had been long 
in the East. I had known him in Alexandria during 
the carnival, and he had lived long time outre, mer, in 
India. Hearing me use the gypsy numerals yeck, 
dui, trin, shtor, panj, lie proceeded to count in 
Hindustani or Persian, in which the same words from 
one to ten are almost identical with Romany. All 
of this was carefully noted by the old gypsy mother, 
as, also, that my friend is of dark complexion, 
with sparkling black eyes. Reduced in dress, or di- 
luted down to worn corduroy and a red tie, he might 
easily pass muster, among the Sons of the Road, as 
one of them. 

And now the ladies must, of course, have their fort- 
unes told, and this, I could observe, greatly aston- 
ished the gypsies in their secret souls, though they 
put a cool face on it. That we, ourselves, were some 
kind of a mysterious high-caste Romany they had 
ilready concluded, and what faith could we put in 
dukkerinf But as it would indubitably bring forth 
shillings to their benefit, they wisely raised no <|iies- 
tions, but calmly took this windfall, which had fallen 



MAT WOODS THE FIDDLER. 195 

as it were, from the skies, even as they had accepted 
the beer, which had come, like a providential rain, 
unto them, in the thirst of a dry journey. 

It is customary for all gypsy sorceresses to take 
those who are to be fortune-told aside, and, if possible, 
into a room by themselves. This is done partly to 
enhance the mystery of the proceeding, and partly 
to avoid the presence of witnesses to what is really an 
illegal act. And as the old sorceress led a lady into 
the little parlor, the gypsy man, whose name was 
Mat, glanced up at me, with a droll, puzzled expres- 
sion, and said, " Patchessa tu adovo ? " (Do you 
believe in that ?) With a wink, I answered, " Why 
not? I, too, tell fortunes myself." Anch io sono 
pittore. It seemed to satisfy him, for he replied, 
with a nod-wink, and proceeded to pour forth the 
balance of his thoughts, if he had any, into the music 
of his violin. 

When the ladies had all been instructed as to their 
future, my friend, who had been in the East, must 
needs have his destiny made known unto him. He 
did not believe in this sort of thing, you know, of 
course not. But he had lived a long time among 
Orientals, and he just happened to wish to know how 
certain speculations would fall out, and he loves, 
above all things, a lark, or anything out of the com- 
mon. So he went in. And when alone with the 
sybil, she began to talfe to him in Romany. 

" Oh, I say, now, old lady, stow that ! " he ex- 
claimed. " I don't understand you." 

" You don't understand me ! " exclaimed the for- 
ti.ne-teller. "Perhaps you didn't understand your 
own mother when she talked Romany to you. What's 
the use of your tryin' to make yourself out a Gorgio 



196 WELSH GYPSIES. 

to me? Don't I know our people? Didn't you* 
friend there talk Romanes? Isn't he all Romanes- 
kas ? And did n't I hear you with my own ears 
count up to ten in Romany ? And now, after that, 
you would deny your own blood and people ! Yes, 
you Ve dwelt in Gorgines so long that you think 
your eyes are blue and your hair is yellow, my son, 
and you have been far over the sea; but wherever you 
went you knew Romanes, if you don't know your own 
color. But you shall hear your fortune. There is 
lead in the mines and silver in the lead, and wealth 
for him who is to win it, and that will be a dark man 
who has been nine times over the sea, and eaten his 
bread under the black tents, and been three times 
near death, once from a horse, and once from a man, 
and once through a woman. And you will know 
something you don't know now before a month is 
over, and something will be found that is now hid- 
den, and lias been hidden since the world was made. 
And there 's a good fortune coming to the man it was 
made for, before the oldest tree that 's a-growing was 
a seed, and that 's a man as knows how to count 
Romanes up to ten, and many a more thing beside 
that, that he 's learned beyond the great water." 

And so we went our ways, tin*, harp and violin 
sounds growing fainter as we receded, till they were 
like, the, buzzing of bees in drying clover, and the 
twilight grew rosier brown. I never met Mat Woods 
main, though I often heard of his fame as a fiddler. 
Whether my Anglo-Indian friend found the fortune 
so vaguely predicted is to mo as yet unknown. But 
I believe lliat the prediction encouraged him. That 
there are evils in palmistry, and sin in card-drawing, 
and iniquity in coffee-grounding, and vice in all the 




MAT WOODS THE FIDDLER. 197 

planets, is 'established by statute, and yet withal I 
incline to believe that the art of prediction cheers up 
many a despondent soul, and does some little good, 
even as good ale, despite the wickedness of drinking, 
makes some hearts merry and others stronger. If 
there are foolish maids who have had their heads 
turned by being told of coming noblemen and pro- 
spective swells, who loved the ground they trod on, 
and were waiting to woo and win and wed, and if 
the same maidens herein described have thereby, 
in the manner set forth, been led by the aforesaid 
devices unto their great injury, as written in the 
above indictment, it may also per contra and on the 
other hand be pleaded that divers girls, to wit, those 
who believe in prediction, have, by encouragement 
and hope to them held out of legally marrying sundry 
young men of good estate, been induced to behave 
better than they would otherwise have done, and led 
by this hope have acted more morally than was their 
wont, and thereby lifted themselves above the lowly 
state of vulgarity, and even of vice, in which they 
would otherwise have groveled, hoveled, or cottaged. 
And there have been men who, cherishing in their 
hearts a prediction, or, what amounts to the same 
thing, a conviction, or a set fancy, have persevered 
in hope until the hope was realized. You, O Chris- 
tian, who believe in a millennium, you, O Jew, who 
expect a Messiah, and await the fulfillment of your 
dukkerin, are both in the right, for both will come 
true when you make them do so. 



II. 

THE PIOUS WASHERWOMAN. 

THERE is not much in life pleasanter than a long 
ramble on the road in leaf-green, sun -gold summer. 
Then it is Nature's merry-time, when fowls in woods 
them maken blithe, and the crow preaches from the 
fence to his friends afield, and the honeysuckle wink- 
cth to the wild rose in the hedge when she is wooed 
by the little buzzy bee. In such times it is good for 
the heart to wander over the hills and far away, into 
haunts known of old, where perhaps some semi-Saxon 
church nestles in a hollow behind a hill, where grass 
o'ergrows each mouldering tomb, and the brook, as it 
ripples by in a darksome aldered hollow, speaks in a 
language which man knows no more, but which is 
answered in the same forgotten tongue by the thou- 
sand-year yew as it rustles in the breeze. And when 
there are Runic stones in this garden of God, where 
He raises souls, I often fancy that this old dialect is 
written in their rhythmic lines. The yew-trees were 
planted by law, lang-syne, to yield bows to the realm, 
und now archery is dead and Martini-Henry has taken 
.ts place, but the yews still live, and the Kunic line 
art of the twisted lines on the tombs, after a thou 
Band years' sleep, is beginning to revive. Every 
thing at such a time, speaks of joy and resurrection 
tree; and tomb and bird and flower and bee. 

These are all memories of a walk from the town 




THE PIOUS WASHERWOMAN. 199 

of Aberystwith, in Wales, which walk leads by an 
ancient church, in the soul garden of which are two 
Runic cross tombstones. One day I went farther 
afield to a more ancient shrine, on the top of a high 
mountain. This was to the summit of Cader Idris, 
sixteen miles off. On this summit there is a Druid- 
ical circle, of which the stones, themselves to ruin 
grown, are strange and death-like old. Legend says 
that this is the burial-place of Taliesin, the first of 
Welsh bards, the primeval poet of Celtic time. Who- 
ever sleeps on the grave will awake either a madman 
or a poet, or is at any rate unsafe to become one or 
the other. I went, with two friends, afoot on this 
little pilgrimage. Both were professors at one of the 
great universities. The elder is a gentleman of great 
benevolence, learning, and gentleness; the other, a 
younger man, has been well polished and sharpened 
by travel in many lands. It is rumored that he has 
preached Islam in a mosque unto the Moslem even 
unto taking up a collection, which is the final test of 
the faith which reaches forth into a bright eternity. 
That he can be, as I have elsewhere noted, a Persian 
unto Persians, and a Romany among Roms, and a 
professional among the hanky-pankorites, is likewise 
on the cards, as surely as that he knows the roads and 
all the devices and little games of them that dwell 
thereon. Though elegant enough in his court dress 
and rapier when he kisses the hand of our sovereign 
lady the queen, he appears such an abandoned rough 
when he goes a-fishing that the innocent and guile- 
less gypsies, little suspecting that a rye lies perdu in 
his wrap-rascal, will then confide in him as if he and 
in-doors had never been acquainted. 

We had taken with us a sparing lunch of thii; 



200 WELSH GYPSIES. 

sandwiches and a frugal flask of modest, blushing 
brandy, which we diluted at a stingy little fountain 
spring which dropped economically through a rift in 
the rock, as if its nymph were conscious that such a 
delicious drink should not be wasted. As it was, it 
refreshed us, and we were resting in a blessed repose 
under the green leaves, when we heard footsteps, 
and an old woman came walking by. 

She was the ideal of decent and extreme poverty. 
I never saw anybody who was at once so poor and 
so clean. In her face and in her thin garments was 
marked the mute, resolute struggle between need and 
self-respect, which, to him who understands it, is as 
brave as any battle between life and death. She 
walked on as if she would have gone past without a 
word, but when we greeted her she paused, and spoke 
respectfully. Without forwardness she told hor sad 
and simple story: how she belonged" to the Wesleyan 
confession, how her daughter was dying in the hos- 
pital at Caernarvon ; how she had walked sixty miles 
to see her, and hoped to get there in time to close her 
eyes. In reply to a question as to her means, she ad- 
mitted that they were exhausted, but that she could 
get through without money ; she did not beg. And 
then came naturally enough the rest of the little art- 
less narrative, as it generally happens among the 
simple annals of the poor : how she had been for 
forty years a washerwoman, and had a letter from 
her clergyman. 

There was a tear in the eye of the elder professor, 
and his hand was in his jvK-kct. The younger smoked 
in silenee. I was grc-itly moved myself, perhaps 
bewildered would be, the, better word, when, all at 
once, as the old woman turned in the sunlight, 1 
eaugnt the expression of the corner of an eye! 



THE PIOUS WASHERWOMAN. 201 

My friend Salaman, who boasts that he is of the 
last of the Sadducees, that strange, ancient, and se- 
cret sect, who disguise themselves as the Neu Re- 
formirte, declares that the Sephardim may be dis- 
tinguished from the Ashkenazim as readily as frcm 
the confounded Goyim, by the corners of their eyes. 
This he illustrated by pointing out to me, as they 
walked by in the cool of the evening, the difference 
between the eyes of Fraulein Eleoiiora Kohn and 
Senorita Linda Abarbanel and divers and sundry 
other young ladies, the result being that I received 
in return thirty-six distinct ceillades, several of which 
expressed indignation, and in all of which there was 
evidently an entire misconception of my object in 
looking at them. Now the eyes of the Sephardesses 
are unquestionably fascinating; and here it may be 
recalled that, in the Middle Ages, witches were also 
recognized by having exactly the same corners, or 
peaks, to the eye. This is an ancient mystery of 
darksome lore, that the enchantress always has the 
bird-peaked eye, which betokens danger to somebody, 
be she of the Sephardim, or an ordinary witch or 
enchantress, or a gypsy. 

Now, as the old Wesleyan washerwoman turned 
around in the sunshine, I saw the witch-pointed eye 
and the glint of the Romany. And then I glanced 
at her hands, and saw that they had not been long 
familiar with wash-tubs ; for, though clean, they were 
brown, and had never been blanched with an age of 
soap-suds. And I spoke suddenly, and said, 

" Can tute ralcker Romanes, miri dye ? " (Can you 
speak Romany, my mother ?) And she answered, as 
if bewildered, 



202 WELSH GYPSIES. 

" The Lord forbid, sir, that I should talk any of 
them wicked languages." 

Tin.; younger professor's eyes expressed dawning 
delight. I followed my shot with, 

" Tute need n't be attrash to rakker. Mandy's been 
apre the drom mi-kokero." (You need n't be afraid 
to speak. I have been upon the road myself.) 

And, still more confused, she answered in Eng- 
lish, - 

" Why, sir, you be upon the road now ! " 

" It seems to me, old lady," remarked the younger 
professor, "that you understand Romany very well 
for one who has been for forty years in the Method- 
ist communion." 

It may be observed that he here confounded wash- 
ing with worshiping. 

The face of the true believer was at this point a 
fine study. All her confidence had deserted her. 
Whether she thought we were of her kind in dis- 
guise, or that, in the unknown higher world of re- 
spectability, there might be gypsies of corresponding 
rank, even as there might be gypsy angels among the 
celestial hierarchies, I cannot with confidence assert. 
About a week ago a philologist and purist told me 
that there is no exact synonym in English for the 
word flabbergasted, as it expresses a peculiar state of 
bewilderment as yet unnamed by scholars, and it ex- 
actly sets forth the condition in which our virtuous 
poverty appeared. She was, indeed, flabbergasted. 
Oornix scorpum rapuit, the owl had come down on 
the rabbits, and lo ! they had fangs. I resumed, 

" Now, old lady, here is a penny. You are a verj 
poor person, and I pity you so much that I give you 
L ,his penny for your poverty. But there is a pockek 



THE PIOUS WASHERWOMAN. 20B 

ful where this came from, and you shall have the 
lot if you '11 rakker" that is, talk gypsy. 

And at tluit touch of the Ithuriel spear the old 
toad flashed up into the Romany devil, as with gleam- 
ing eyes and a witch-like grin she cried in a mixture 
of gypsy and tinker languages, 

" Gents, I '11 have tute jin when you tharis mandy 
you rakker a reg'lar fly old bewer." Which means, 
" Gentlemen, I '11 have you know, when you talk to 
me, you talk to a reg'lar shrewd old female thief." 

The face of the elder professor was a study of as- 
tonishment for Lavater. His fingers relaxed their 
grasp of the shilling, his hand was drawn from his 
pocket, and his glance, like Bill Nye's, remarked: 
" Can this be ? " He tells the story to this day, and 
always adds, " I never was so astonished in my life." 
But the venerable washerwoman was also changed, 
and, the mask once thrown aside, she became as fes- 
tive as a witch on the Brocken. Truly, it is a great 
comfort to cease playing a part, particularly a pious 
one, and be at home and at ease among your like ; 
and better still if they be swells. This was the de- 
ight of Anderson's ugly duck when it got among the 
swans, " and, blest sensation, felt genteel." And to 
show her gratitude, the sorceress, who really seemed 
to have grown several shades darker, insisted on tell- 
ing our fortunes. I think it was to give vent to her 
feelings in defiance of the law that she did this ; cer- 
tain it was that just then, under the circumstances, it 
was the only way available in which th6 law could 
be broken. And as it was, indeed, by heath and hill 
that the priestess of the hidden spell bade the Palmer 
from over the sea hold out his palm. And she began 
in the usual sing-song tone, mocking the style of 



204 WELSH GYPSIES. 

gypsy fortune-tellers, and satirizing herself. And 
thus she spoke, 

" You 're born under a- lucky star, my good gentle- 
man, and you 're a married man ; but there 's a black- 
eyed young lady that's in love with you" 

" Oh, mother of all the thieves ! " I cried, " you 've 
put the dukkerin on the wrong man. I 'm the one 
that the dark girls go after." 

" Yes, my good gentleman. She 's in love with 
you both." 

" And now tell my fortune ! " I exclaimed, and with 
a grim expression, casting up my palm, I said, 

" Pen mengy if mandy 'II be bitchadS padel for 
cJiorin a gry, or naslierdo for mtrin a gav-mush" 
(Tell me if I am to be transported for stealing a 
horse, or hung for killing a policeman.) 

The old woman's face changed. "You'll never 
need to steal a horse. The man that knows what 
you know never need be poor like me. I know who 
you are now ; you 're not one of these tourists. You 're 
the boro Romany rye [the tall gypsy gentleman]. 
And go your way, and brag about it in your house, 
and well you may, that Old Moll of the Roads 
could n't take you in, and that you found her out. 
Never another rye but you will ever say that again. 
Never." 

And she went dancing away in the sunshine, ca- 
pering backwards along the road, merrily shaking the 
pennies in her hand for music, while she sang some- 
thing in gypsy, witch to the last, vanishing as 
witches only can. And there came over me a feel- 
ing as of the very olden time, and some nn-mory of 
another witch, who had said to another man, "Thou 
art no traveler. Great master, I know thee now;' 




THE PIOUS WASHERWOMAN. 205 

and who, when he called her the mother of the giants* 
replied, " Go thy way, and boast at home that no man 
will ever waken me again with spells. Never." That 
was the parting of Odin and the Vala sorceress, and 
it was the story of oldest time ; and so the myth of 
ancient days becomes a tattered parody, and thus runs 
the world away to Romany s and rags when the gods 
are gone. 

When I laughed at the younger professor for con- 
founding forty years in the church with as many at 
the wash-tub, he replied, 

" Cleanliness is with me so near to godliness that 
it is not remarkable that in my hurry I mistook one 
for the other." 

So we went on and climbed Cader Idris, and found 
the ancient grave of rocks in a mystic circle, whose 
meaning lies buried with the last Druid, who would 
perhaps have told you they were 

" Seats of stone nevir hewin with mennes hand 
But wrocht by Nature as it ane house had bene 
For Nymphes, goddis of floudes and woodis grene." 

And we saw afar the beautiful scene, " where 
fluddes rynnys in the foaming sea," as Gawain Doug- 
las sings, and where, between the fresh water and salt, 
stands a village, even where it stood in earliest Cym- 
ric prehistoric dawn, and the spot where ran the weir 
in which the prince who was in grief because his weir 
yielded no fish, at last fished up a poet, even as Pha- 
raoh's daughter fished out a prophet. I shall not soon 
forget that summer day, nor the dream-like pano- 
rama, nor the ancient grave ; nor how the younger 
professor lay down on the seat of stone nevir hewin 
with mennes hand, and declared he had a nap, just 
enough to make him a poet. To prove which he 



206 WELSH GYPSIES. 

wrote a long poem on the finding of Taliesin in the 
. :m<l sent it to the AberyBtwith newspaper; 
while I, not to be behindhand, wrote another, in imi- 
tation of the triplets of Llydwarch Hen, which were 
so greatly admired as tributes to Welsh poetry that 
they were forthwith translated faithfully into lines of 
consonants, touched up with so many w's that they 
looked like saws ; and they circulated even unto Llan- 
dudno, and, for aught I know, may be sung at Eisted- 
fodds, now and ever, to the twanging of small harps, 
in scecula sceculorum. Truly, the day which had 
begun with a witch ended fitly enough at the tomb of 
a prophet poet. 



III. 

THE GYPSIES AT ABERYSTWITH. 

ABERYSTWITH is a little fishing-village, which has 
of late years first bloomed as a railway-station, and 
then fruited into prosperity as a bathing-place. Like 
many parvenus, it makes a great display of its Nor- 
man ancestor, the old castle, saying little about the 
long centuries of plebeian obscurity in which it was 
once buried. This castle, after being woefully neg- 
lected during the days when nobody cared for its early 
respectability, has been suddenly remembered, now 
that better times have come, and, though not restored, 
has been made comely with grass banks, benches, 
and gravel walks, reminding one of an Irish grand- 
father in America, taken out on a Sunday with " the 
childher," and looking "gintale" in the clean shirt 
and whole coat unknown to him for many a decade in 
Tipperary. Of course the castle and the wealth, or 
the hotels and parade, are well to the fore, or boldly 
displayed, as Englishly as possible, while the little 
Welsh town shrinks quietly into the hollow behind. 
And being new to prosperity, Aberystwith is also a 
little muddled as to propriety. It would regard with 
horror the idea of allowing ladies and gentlemen to 
bathe together, even though completely clad ; but it 
sees nothing out of the way when gentlemen in pre- 
fig-leaf costume disport themselves, bathing just be- 
fore the young ladies' boarding-school and the chief 



208 WELSH GYPSIES. 

hotel, or running joyous races on the beach. I shall 
never forget the amazement and horror with which 
an Aberystwithienne learned that in distant lands 
ladies and gentlemen went into the water arm in arm, 
although dressed. But when it was urged that the 
Aberystwith system was somewhat peculiar, she re- 
plied, " Oh, t hat is a very different thing ! " 

On which words for a text a curious sermon might 
be preached to the Philistiny souls who live perfectly 
reconciled to absurd paradoxes, simply because they 
are accustomed to them. Now, of all human beings, 
I think the gypsies are freest from trouble with par- 
adoxes as to things being different or alike, and the 
least afflicted with moral problems, burning questions, 
social puzzles, or any other kind of mental rubbish. 
They are even freer than savages or the heathen in 
this respect, since of all human beings the Fijian, 
New Zeahiuder. Mpongwe, or Esquimaux is most ter- 
ribly tortured with the laws of etiquette, religion, 
social position, and propriety. Among many of these 
heathen unfortunates the meeting with an equal in- 
volves lift ecu minutes of bowing, re-bowing, surre- 
bowing, and rejoinder-bowing, with complementary 
complimenting, according to old custom, while the 
worship of Mrs. Grimily through a superior requires a 
half hour wearisome beyond belief. "In Fiji," says 
Miss C. F. Gordon Gumming, "strict etiquette rules 
every action of life, and the most trifling mistake in 
such matters would cause as great dissatisfaction as a 
breach in the order of precedence at a European cer- 
emonial." In dividing eold baked missionary at a 
dinner, especially if a chief be present, the host com- 
mitting the least mistake as to helping the proper 
guest to the proper piece in the proper way would 



THE G YPSIES AT A BER YST WITH. 209 

find himself promptly put down in the menu. In 
Fiji, as in all other countries, this punctilio is noth- 
ing but the direct result of ceaseless effort on the part 
of the upper classes to distinguish themselves from 
the lower. Cannibalism is a joint sprout from the 
same root ; " the devotirers of the poor " are the 
scorners of the humble and lowly, and they are all 
grains of the same corn, of the devil's planting, all 
the world over. Perhaps the quaintest error which 
haunts the world in England and America is that so 
much of this stuff as is taught by rule or fashion as 
laws for "the elite" is the very nucleus of enlight- 
enment and refinement, instead of its being a remnant 
of barbarism. And when we reflect on the degree to 
which this naive and child-like faith exists in the 
United States, as shown by the enormous amount of 
information in certain newspapers as to what is the 
latest thing necessary to be done, acted, or suffered in 
order to be socially saved, I surmise that some future 
historian will record that we, being an envious peo- 
ple, turned out the Chinese, because we could not 
endure the presence among us of a race so vastly our 
superiors in all that constituted the true principles of 
culture and " custom." 

Arthur Mitchell, in inquiring What is Civilization 7 1 
remarks that "all the things which gather round or 
grow upon a high state of civilization are not neces- 
sarily true parts of it. These conventionalities are 
often regarded as its very essence." And it is true 
that the greater the fool or snob, the deeper is the 
conviction that the conventional is the core of " cult- 
ure." '"It is not genteel,' 'in good form,' or 'the 
mode,' to do this or do that, or say this or say that." 

i The Past in the Present, part 2, lect. 3. 
14 



210 WELSH GYPSIES. 

"Such things are spoken of as marks of a high civili- 
zation, or by those who do not confound civilization 
with culture as differentiators between the cultured 
and the uncultured." Dr. Mitchell " neither praises 
nor condemns these things;" but it is well for a man, 
while he is about it, to know his own mind, and I, 
for myself, condemn them with all my heart and soul, 
whenever anybody declares that such brass counters 
in the game of life are real gold, and insists that I 
shall accept them as such. For small play in a very 
small way with small people, I would endure them ; 
but many men and nearly all women make their cap- 
ital of them. And whatever may be said in their 
favor, it cannot be denied that they constantly lead 
to lying and heartlessness. Even Dr. Mitchell, while 
he says he does not condemn them, proceeds immedi- 
ately to declare that " while we submit to them they 
constitute a sort of tyranny, under which we fret and 
secretly pine for escape. Does not the exquisite of 
Rotten Row weary for his ilannel shirt and shooting- 
'aeket? Do not 'well-constituted' men want to 
rish and shoot or kill something, themselves, by climb- 
ing mountains, when they can find nothing else? In 
short, does it not appear that these conventionalities 
are irksome, and are disregarded when the chance 
presents itself? And does it not seem as if there were 
something in human nature pulling men back to a 
rude and simple life ? " To find that men suffer un- 
der the conventionalities, "adds, on the whole," says 
our canny, prudent Scot, "to the respectability of 
human nature." Tu It<> r<i</><>ne (right you are), 
Dr. Mitchell, there. For the conventional, whether 
found among Fijians as they were, or in May fair as 
it is, whenever it is vexatious and merely serves as a 



cordon 



THE GYPSIES AT ABERYSTWITH. 211 



cordon to separate " sassiety ' r from society, detracts 
from the respectability of humanity, and is in itself 
vulgar. If every man in society were a gentleman 
and every woman a lady, there would be no more 
conventionalism. Usus est tyrannus (custom is a ty- 
rant), or, as the Talmud proverb saith, "Custom is the 
plague of wise men, but is the idol of fools." And 
he was a wise Jew, whoever he was, who declared it. 

But let us return to our black sheep, the gypsy. 
While happy in not being conventional, and while 
rejoicing, or at least unconsciously enjoying freedom 
from the bonds of etiquette, he agrees with the Chi- 
nese, red Indians, May Fairies, and Fifth Avenoodles 
in manifesting under the most trying circumstances 
that imperturbability which was once declared by an 
eminent Philadelphia!! to be "the Corinthian orna- 
ment of a gentleman." He who said this bnilded 
better than he knew, for the ornament in question, if 
purely Corinthian, is simply brass. One morning I 
was sauntering with the Palmer in Aberystwith, 
when we met with a young and good-looking gypsy 
woman, with whom we entered into conversation, 
learning that she was a Bosville, and acquiring other 
items of news as to Egypt and the roads, and then 
left. 

We had not gone far before we found a tinker. 
He who catches a tinker has got hold of half a gypsy 
and a whole cosmopolite, however bad the catch may 
be. He did not understand the greeting Sarishan! 
' he really could not remember to have heard it. 
He did not know any gypsies, " he could not get 
along with them." They were a bad lot. He had 
seen some gypsies three weeks before on the road. 
They were curious dark people, who lived in tenta. 
He could not talk Romany. 



212 WELSH GYPSIES. 

This was really pitiable. It was too much. The 
Palmer inl'ormeel him that he was wast ing his best 
opportunities, and that it was a great pity that any 
man who lived on the roads should be so ignorant. 
The tinker never winked. In the goodness of our 
hearts we even offered to give him lessons in the kalo 
jib, or black language. The grinder was as calm as a 
Belgravian image. And as we turned to depart the 
professor said, 

"Mandyd del tute a shahori to pi moro Jcamma- 
ben, if tute jinned sa mandi pukkers." (I 'd give 
you a sixpence to drink our health, if you' knew what 
I am saying.) 

With undisturbed gravity the tinker replied, 

"Now I come to think of it, I do remember to 
have heard somethin' in the parst like that. It's a 
con wi vial expression arskin' me if I won't have a tan- 
ner for ale. Which I will." 

"Now since you take such an interest in gypsies," 
I answered. " it is a pity that you should know so lit- 
tle about them. I have seen them since you have. 
I saw a nice young woman, one of the Bosvilles here, 
not half an hour ago. Shall I introduce you?" 

" That young woman," remarked the tinker, with 
the same immovable countenance, "is my wife. And 
I 've come down here, by appointment, to meet some 
Romany pals." 

And having politely accepted his sixpence, the grid- 
dler went his way, tinkling his bell, along the road, 
lie did not disturb himself that his first speeches did 
not agroo with his last; he was not in the habit of 
being disturbed about anything, and lie knew that no 
one ever learned Komany without learning with it not 
to be astonished at any little inconsistencies. Serene 




THE GYPSIES AT ABERYSTWITH. 213 

and polished as a piece of tin in the sunshine, he would 
not stoop to be put out by trifles. He was a typical 
tinker. He knew that the world had made up prov- 
erbs expressing the utmost indifference either for a 
tinker's blessing or a tinker's curse, and he retali- 
ated by not caring a curse whether the world blessed 
or banned him. In all ages and in all lands the tinker 
has always been the type of this droning indifference, 
which goes through life bagpiping its single melody, 
or whistling, like the serene Marquis de Crabs, " Tou- 
jours Santerre." 

" Es ist nnd bleibt das alte Lied 
Von dem versoff'nen Pfannenschmied, 
Und wer's nicht welter singen kann, 
Der fang's von Vorne wieder an." 

'T will ever be the same old song 
Of tipsy tinkers all day long, 
And he who cannot sing it more 
May sing it over, as before. 

I should have liked to know John Bunyan. As a 
half-blood gypsy tinker he must have been self-con- 
tained and pleasant. He had his wits about him, too, 
in a very Romanly way. When confined in prison 
he made a flute or pipe out of the leg of his three 
legged-stool, and would play on it to pass time. When 
the jailer entered to stop the noise, John replaced the 
leg in the stool, and sat on it looking innocent as only 
a gypsy tinker could, calm as a summer morning. 
I commend the subject for a picture. Very recently, 
that is, in the beginning of 1881, a man of the same 
tinkering kind, and possibly of the same blood as 
Honest John, confined in the prison of Moyamen- 
Bing, Philadelphia, did nearly the same thing, only 
that instead of making his stool leg into a musical 



214 WELSH GYPSIES. 

pipe he converted it into a pipe for tobacco. But 
when the watchman, led by the .smell, entered his cell, 
there was no pipe to be found ; only a deeply injured 
man complaining that "somebody had been smokin' 
outside, and it had blowed into his cell through the 
door-winder from the corridore, and p'isoned the at- 
mosphere. And he did n't like it." And thus history 
repeats itself. 'T is all very well for the sticklers for 
Wesley an gentility to deny that John Bunyan was a 
gypsy, but he who in his life cannot read Romany 
between the lines knows not the jib nor the cut 
thereof. Tough was J. B., "and de-vil-ish sly," and 
altogether a much better man than many suppose 
him to have been. 

The tinker lived with his wife in a "tramps' lodg- 
ing-house " in the town. To those Americans who 
know such places by the abominable dens which are 
occasionally reported by American grand juries, the 
term will suggest something much worse than it is. 
In England the average tramp's lodging is cleaner, 
better regulated, and more orderly than many West- 
ern "hotels." The police look closely after it, and 
do not allow more than a certain number in a room. 
They see that it is frequently cleaned, and that clean 
sheets an; frequently put on the beds. One or two 
hand-organs in the hall, with a tinker's barrow or 
wheel, proclaimed the character of the, lodgers, and in 
the sitting-room there were to be found, of an evening, 
gypsies, laborers with their families seeking work 
or itinerant musicians. J can recall a powerful and 
tall young man, with a badly expressive face, one- 
l<'gged, and well dressed as a sailor. lie was a beg- 
gar, who measured the good or evil of all mankind 
by what they gave him. He was very bitter as to 



THE GYPSIES AT ABERYSTWITH. 215 

the bad. Yet this house was in its way upper class. 
It was not a den of despair, dirt, and misery, and even 
the Italians who came there were obliged to be decent 
and clean. It would not have been appropriate to 
have written for them on the door, " Voi che intrate 
lasciate ogni speranza" (He who enters here leaves 
soap behind.) The most painful fact which struck 
me, in my many visits, was the intelligence and de- 
cency of some of the boarders. There was more than 
one who conversed in a manner which indicated an 
excellent early education; more than one who read 
the newspaper aloud and commented on it to the com- 
pany, as any gentleman might have done. Indeed, 
the painful part of life as shown among these poor 
people was the manifest fact that so many of them 
had come down from a higher position, or were qual- 
ified for it. And this is characteristic of such places. 
In his " London Labour and the London Poor," vol. 
i. p. 217, Mahew tells of a low lodging-house "in 
which there were at one time five university men, 
three surgeons, and several sorts of broken-down 
clerks." The majority of these cases are the result 
of parents having risen from poverty and raised their 
families to "gentility." The sons are deprived by 
their bringing up of the vulgar pluck and coarse en- 
ergy by which the father rose, and yet are expected to 
make their way in the world, with nothing but a so- 
called " education," which is too often less a help 
than a hindrance. In the race of life no man is so 
heavily handicapped as a young "gentleman." The 
humblest and raggedest of all the inmates of this 
house were two men who got their living by shelkin 
gallopas (or selling ferns), as it is called in the Shelta, 
or tinker's and tramp's slang. One of these, whom I 



216 WELSH GYPSIES. 

have described in another chapter as teaching me this 
dialect, could conjugate a French verb ; we thought 
he had studied law. The other was a poor old fellow 
called Krooty, who could give the Latin names for 
all the plants which he gathered and sold, and who 
would repeat poetry very appropriately, proving suf- 
ficiently that he had read it. Both the fern-sellers 
spoke better English than divers Lord Mayors and 
Knights to whom I have listened, for they neither 
omitted h like the lowly, nor r like the lofty ones of 
London. 

The tinker's wife was afflicted with a nervous dis- 
order, which caused her great suffering, and made it 
almost impossible for her to sell goods, or contribute 
anything to the joint support. Her husband always 
treated her with the greatest kindness; I have sel- 
dom seen an instance in which a man was more indul- 
gent and gentle. He made no display whatever of 
his feelings ; it was only little by little that I found 
out what a heart this imperturbable rough of the 
road possessed. Now the Palmer, who was always 
engaged in some wild act of unconscious benevolence, 
bought for her some medicine, and gave her an order 
on the first physician in the town for proper advice ; 
the result being a decided amelioration of her health. 
And I never knew any human being to be more sin- 
cerely grateful than the tinker was for this kindness. 
Ascertaining that I had tools for wood-carving, he in- 
sisted on presenting me with crocus powder, " to put 
an edge on." He had a remarkably fine whetstone, 
"the best in England; it was worth half a sover- 
eign," and this he often and vainly begged me to ac- 
cept. And he had a peculiar little trick of relieving 
his kindly feelings. Whenever we dropped in of an 



THE GYPSIES AT ABERYSTWITII. 217 

evening to the lodging-house, he would cunningly 
borrow my knife, and then disappear. Presently the 
whiz-whiz, st'st of his wheel would be heard without, 
and then the artful dodger would reappear with a 
triumphant smile, and with the knife sharpened to 
a razor edge. Anent which gratitude I shall have 
more to say anon. 

One day I was walking on the Front, when I over- 
took a gypsy van, loaded with baskets and mats, 
lumbering along. The proprietor, who was a stranger 
to me, was also slightly or lightly lumbering in his 
gait, being cheerfully beery, while his berry brown 
wife, with a little three-year-old boy, peddled wares 
from door to door. Both were amazed and pleased 
at being accosted in Romany. In the course of con- 
versation they showed great anxiety as to their child, 
who had long suffered from some disorder which 
caused them great alarm. The man's first name 
was Anselo, though it was painted Onslow on his 
vehicle. Mr. Anselo, though himself just come to 
town, was at once deeply impressed with the duty 
of hospitality to a Romany rye. I had called him 
pal, and this in gypsydom involves the shaking of 
hands, and with the better class an extra display of 
courtesy. He produced half a crown, and declared 
his willingness to devote it all to beer for my benefit. 
I declined, but he repeated his offer several times, 
not with any annoying display, but with a courteous 
earnestness, intended to set forth a sweet sincerity. 
As I bade him good-by, he put the crown -piece into 
one eye, and as he danced backward, gypsy fashion 
up the street and vanished in the sunny purple twi- 
light towards the sea I could see him winking with 
the other, and hear him cry, " Don't say no now 'a 
the last chance do I hear a bid ? " 



218 WELSH GYPSIES. 

We found this family in due time at the lodging- 
house, where the little boy proved to be indeed seri- 
ously ill, and we at once discovered that the parents, 
in their ignorance, had quite misunderstood his malady 
and were aggravating it by mal-treatment. To these 
poor people the good Palmer also gave an order on 
the old physician, who declared that the boy must 
have died in a few days, had he not taken charge of 
him. As it was, the little fellow was speedily cured. 
There was, it appeared, some kind of consanguinity 
between the tinker or his wife and the Anselo family. 
These good people, anxious to do anything, yet able 
to do little, consulted together as to showing their 
gratitude, and noting that we were specially desir- 
ous of collecting old gypsy words gave us all they 
could think of, and without informing us of their in- 
tention, which indeed we only learned by accident 
a long time after, sent a messenger many milea to 
bring to Aberystwith a certain Bosville, who was 
famed as being deep in Romany lore, and in posses- 
sion of many ancient words. Which was indeed true, 
he having been the first to teach us pisdli, meaning a. 
saddle, and in which Professor Cowell, of Cambridge, 
promptly detected the Sanskrit for sit-upon, the same 
double meaning also existing in boshto ; or, as old 
Mrs. Buckland said to me at Oaklands Park, in 
Philadelphia, "a pisdli is the same thing with a 
loshto" 

" What will gain thy faith ? " said Quentin Dur- 
ward to Hayradden Maugrabhin. " Kindness," an- 
swered the gypsy. 

The joint families, solely with intent to please us, 
although they never said a word about it, next sent 
for a young Romany, one of the Lees, and his wife. 



THE GYPSIES AT ABERYSTWITH. 219 

whom they supposed we would like to meet. Walk- 
ing along the Front, I met the tinker's wife with the 
handsomest Romany girl I ever beheld. In a Lon- 
don ball-room or on the stage she would have been a 
really startling beauty. This was young Mrs. Lee. 
Her husband was a clever violinist, and it was very 
remarkable that when he gave himself up to playing, 
with abandon or self-forgetfulness, there came into 
his melodies the same wild gypsy expression, the 
same chords and tones, which abound in the music 
of the Austrian Tsigane. It was not my imagination 
which prompted the recognition ; the Palmer also 
observed it, without thinking it remarkable. From 
the playing of both Mat Woods and young Lee, I 
am sure that there has survived among the Welsh 
gypsies some of the spirit of their old Eastern music, 
just as in the solo dancing of Mat's sister there was 
precisely the same kind of step which I had seen in 
Moscow. Among the hundreds of the race whom I 
have met in Great Britain, I have never known any 
young people who were so purely Romany as these. 
The tinker and Anselo with his wife had judged 
wisely that we would be pleased with this picturesque 
couple. They always seemed to me in the house 
like two wild birds, and tropical ones at that, in a 
--age. There was a tawny -gold, black and scarlet 
tone about them and their garb, an Indian Spanish 
duskiness and glow which I loved to look at. 

Every proceeding of the tinker and Anselo was 
veiled in mystery and hidden in the obscurity so dear 
to such grown-up children, but as I observed after 
a few days that Lee did nothing beyond acting as as- 
sistant to the tinker at the wheel, I surmised that 
the visit was solely for our benefit. 'As the tinker 



220 WELSH GYPSIES. 

was devoted to his poor wife, so was Anselo and his 
dame devoted to their child. He was, indeed, a brave 
little fellow, and frequently manifested the precocious 
pluck and sturdiness so greatly admired by the Rom- 
anys of the road ; and when he would take a whip and 
lead the horse, or in other ways show his courage, 
the delight of his parents was in its turn delightful. 
They would look at the child as if charmed, and then 
at one another with feelings too deep for words, and 
then at me for sympathetic admiration. 

The keeper of the house where they lodged was 
in his way a character and a linguist. Welsh was 
his native tongue and English his second best. He 
also knew others, such as Romany, of which he was 
proud, and the Shelta or Minklas of the tinkers, of 
which he was not. The only language which he 
knew of which he was really ashamed was Italian, 
and though he could maintain a common conversa- 
tion in it he always denied that he remembered more 
than a few words. For it was not as the tongue of 
Dante, but as the lingo of organ-grinders and such 
" catenone " that be knew it, and I think that the 
Palmer and I lost dignity in his eyes by inadvertently 
admitting that it was familiar to us. " I should n't 
have thought it," was all his comment on the dis- 
covery, but I knew his thought, and it was that we 
Uad made ourselves unnecessarily familiar with vul- 
garity. 

It is not every one who is aware of the extent to 
which Italian is known by the lower orders in Lon- 
don. It is not spoken as a language ; but many of 
its words, sadly mangled, are mixed with English as 
A jargon. Thus the Italian scappare, to escape, or 
run away, has become scarper; and a dweller in the 



THE GYPSIES AT ABERYSTWITH. 221 

Seven Dials has been heard to say he would " scarper 
with the feele of the donna of the cassey ;" which 
means, run away with the daughter of the landlady of 
the house, and which, as the editor of the Slang Dic- 
tionary pens, is almost pure Italian, scappare colla 
figlia della donna della casa. Most costermongers 
call a penny a saltee, from soldo ; a crown, a caroon ; 
and one half, madza, from mezza. They count as 

follows : 

ITALIAN. 

Oney saltee, a penny Uno soldo. 

Dooey saltee, twopence Dui soldi. 

Tray saltee, threepence Tre soldi. 

Quarterer saltee, fourpence .... Quattro soldi. 

Chinker saltee, fivepence Cinque soldi. 

Say saltee, sixpence Sei soldi. 

Say oney saltee, or setter saltee, seven- 
pence Sette soldi. 

Say dooee saltee, or otter saltee, eight- 
pence . Otto soldi. 

Say tray saltee, or nobba saltee, nine- 
pence Nove soldi. 

Say quarterer saltee, or dacha (datsha) 

saltee, tenpence Dieci soldi. 

Say chinker saltee, or dacha one saltee, 

elevenpence Dieci uno soldi, 

Oney beong, one shilling Uno bianco. 

A beong say saltee, one shilling and 

sixpence ... . . Uno bianco sei soldi. 

Madza caroon, half a crown . . . Mezza corona. 

Mr. Hotten says that he could never discover the 
derivation of beong, or beonk. It is very plainly the 
Italian bianco, white, which, like blanc in French and 
blank in German, is often applied slangily to a silver 
coin. It is as if one had said, " a shiner." Apropos 



222 WELSH GYPSIES. 

of which word there is something curious to be noted. 
It came forth in evidence, a few years ago in England, 
that burglars or other thieves always carried with 
them a piece of coal ; and on this disclosure, a certain 
writer, in his printed collection of curiosities, com- 
ments as if it were a superstition, remarking that the 
coal is carried for an amulet. But the truth is that 
the thief has no such idea. The coal is simply a 
sign for money ; and when the bearer meets with a 
man whom he thinks may be a " fence," or a pur- 
chaser of stolen goods, he shows the coal, which is 
as much as to say, Have you money? Money, in 
vulgar gypsy, is wongur, a corruption of the better 
word angar, which also means a hot coal; and braise, 
in French argdt, has the same double meaning. I 
may be wrong, but I suspect that rat, a dollar in 
Hebrew, or at least in Schmussen, has its root in 
common with ratzafim, coals, and possibly poschit, a 
farthing, with pecliam, coal. In the six kinds of fire 
mentioned in the Talmud, 1 there is no identification 
of coals with money; but in the Germ;n legends of 
Rubezahl, there is a tale of a charcoal-burner who 
found them changed to gold. Coins are called shiners 
because they shine like glowing coals, and I dare say 
that the simile exists in many more languages. 

One twilight we found in the public sitting-room 
of the lodging-house a couple whom I can never for- 
get. It was an elderly gypsy and his wife. The 
husband was himself characteristic ; the wife was 
more than merely picturesque. I have never met 
such a superb old Romany as she was; indeed, I doubt 
if I ever saw any woman of her age, in any land or 
any range of life, with a more magnificently proud 
1 Yoma, fol. 21, col. 2. 




THE GYPSIES AT ABERYSTWITH. 223 

expression or such unaffected dignity. It was the 
whole poem of u Crescentius " living in modern time 
in other form. 

When a scholar associates much with gypsies there 
is developed in him in due time a perception or intu- 
ition of certain kinds of men or minds, which it is 
as difficult to describe as it is wonderful. He who 
has read Matthew Arnold's " Gipsy Scholar " ma} 7 , 
however, find therein many apt words for it. I mean 
very seriously what I say ; I mean that through the 
Romany the demon of Socrates acquires distinctness ; 
I mean that a faculty is developed which is as strange 
as divination, and which is greatly akin to it. The 
gypsies themselves apply it directly to palmistry ; 
were they well educated they would feel it in higher 
forms. It may be reached among other races and in 
other modes, and Nature is always offering it to us 
freely ; but it seems to live, or at least to be most de- 
veloped, among the Romany. It comes upon the 
possessor far more powerfully when in contact with 
certain lives than with others, and with the sympa- 
thetic it takes in at a glance that which may employ 
it at intervals for years to think out. 

And by this duk I read in a few words in the 
Romany woman an eagle soul, caged between the bars 
of poverty, ignorance, and custom ; but a great soul for 
all that. Both she and her husband were of the old 
type of their race, now so rare in England, though 
commoner in America. They spoke Romany with 
inflection and conjugation ; they remembered the old 
rhymes and old words, which I quoted freely, with the 
Palmer. Little by little, the old man seemed to be 
deeply impressed, indeed awed, by our utterly inex- 



224 WELSH GYPSIES. 

plicable knowledge. I wore a velveteen coat, and 
had on a broad, soft felt hat. 

" You talk as the old Romanys did," said the old 
man. u I hear you use words which I once heard 
from old men who died when I was a boy. I thought 
those words were lying in graves which have long 
been green. I hear songs and sayings which I never 
expected to hear again. You talk like gypsies, and 
such gypsies as I never meet now; and you look like 
Gorgios. But when I was still young, a few of the 
oldest Romany chals still wore hats such as you have; 
and when I first looked at you, I thought of them. I 
don't understand you. It is strange, very strange." 

" It is the Romany soul," said his wife. " People 
take to what is in them ; if a bird were born a fox, it 
would love to fly." 

I wondered what flights she would have taken if 
she had wings. But I understood why the old man 
had spoken as he did ; for, knowing that we had in- 
telligent listeners, the Palmer and I had brought forth 
all our best and quaintest Romany curios, and these 
rural Welsh wanderers were not, like their English 
pals, familiar with Romany ryes. And I was moved 
to like them, and nobody perceives this sooner than a 
gypsy. The old couple were the parents of young 
Lee, and said they had come to visit him ; but I think 
that it was rather to see us that we owed their pres- 
ence in Aberystwith. For the tinker and Anselo 
were at this time engaged, in their secret and owl-like 
manner, as befitted men who were up to all manner 
of ways that were dark, in collecting the most in- 
teresting specimens of Romanys, for our especial 
Btudy ; and whenever this could be managed so that it 



THE GYPSIES AT ABERYSTWITH. 225 

appeared entirely accidental and a surprise, then they 
retired into their shadowed souls and chuckled with 
fiendish glee at having managed things so charmingly. 
But it will be long ere I forget ho\v the old man's 
eye looked into the past as he recalled, 

" The hat of antique shape and coat of gray, 
The same the gypsies wore," 

and went far away back through my words to words 
heard in the olden time, by fires long since burnt out, 
beneath the flame-gilt branches of forests which have 
sailed away as ships, farther than woods eV,r went 
from Durisinane, and been wrecked in Southern seas. 
But though I could not tell exactly what was in every 
room, I knew into what house his soul had gone ; and 
it was for this that the scholar-gypsy went from Ox- 
ford halls " to learn strange arts and join a gypsy 
tribe." His friends had gone from earth long since, 
and were laid to sleep ; some, perhaps, far in the wold 
and wild, amid the rocks, where fox and wild bird 
were their visitors ; but for an instant they rose 
again from their graves, and I knew them. 

" They could do wonders by the power of the imag- 
ination," says Glanvil of the gypsies; "their fancy 
binding that of others." Understand by imagination 
and fancy all that Glanvil really meant, and I agree 
with him. It is a matter of history that, since the 
Aryan morning of mankind, the Romanys have been 
chiromancing, and, following it, trying to read peo- 
ple's minds and bind them to belief. Thousands of 
years of transmitted hereditary influences always re- 
sult in something ; it has really resulted with the gyp- 
sies in an instinctive, though undeveloped, intuitive 

15 



226 WELSH GYPSIES. 

perception, which a sympathetic mind acquires from 
them, nay, is compelled to acquire, out of mere 
self-defense ; and when gained, it manifests itself in 
many forms, 

" But it needs heaven-sent moments for this skill." 



AMERICAN GYPSIES. 



I. 



GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 

IT is true that the American gypsy has grown more 
vigorous in this country, and, like many plants, has 
thriven better for being trans I was about to write 
incautiously ported, but, on second thought, say 
planted. Strangely enough, he is more Romany than 
ever. I have had many opportunities of studying 
both the elders from England and the younger gyp- 
sies, born of English parents, and I have found that 
there is unquestionably a great improvement in the 
race here, even from a gypsy stand-point. The young 
sapling, under more favorable influences, has pushed 
out from the old root, and grown stronger. The 
causes for this are varied. Gypsies, like peacocks, 
thrive best when allowed to range afar. II faut leur 
donner le clef des champs (you must give them the 
key of the fields), as I once heard an old Frenchman, 
employed on Delmonico's Long Island farm, lang 
syne, say of that splendid poultry. And what a 
range they have, from the Atlantic to the Pacific ! 
Marry, sir, 't is like roaming from sunrise to sunset, 
east and west, " and from the aurora borealis to a 
Southern blue-jay," and no man shall make them 
afraid. Wood ! " Well, 't is a kushto tern for kdsht " 



228 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

(a fair land for timber), as a very decent Romani- 
chal said to me one afternoon. It was thinking of 
him which led me to these remarks. 

I had gone with my niece who speaks Romany 
out to a gypsyry by Oaklands Park, and found 
there one of our good people, with his wife and chil 
dren, in a tent. Hard by was the wagon and the 
horse, and, after the usual initiatory amazement at 
being accosted in the halo jib, or black language, had 
been survived, we settled down into conversation. 
It was a fine autumnal day, Indian-summery, the 
many in one of all that is fine in weather all the 
world over, put into a single glorious sense, a 
sense of bracing air and sunshine not over-bold or 
bright, and purple, tawny hues in western skies, and 
dim, sweet feelings of the olden time. And as we 
sat lounging in lowly seats, and talked about the peo- 
ple and their ways, it seemed to me as if I were 
again in Devonshire or Surrey. Our host for every 
gypsy who is visited treats you as a guest, thus much 
Oriental politeness being deeply set in him had 
been in America from boyhood, but he seemed to be 
perfectly acquainted with all whom I had known 
over the sea. Only one thing ho had not heard, the 
death of old Gentilla Cooper, of the Devil's Dyke, 
near Brighton, for I had just received a letter from 
England announcing the sad news. 

" Yes, this America is a good country for travel- 
ers. We can go South in winter. Aye, the land is 
big enough to go to a warm side in winter, and a 
cool one in summer. But I don't go South, because 
I don't like the people, ; I don't get along with them. 
Some Romany s do. Yes, but I 'in not on that horse. 
I hear that the old country 's getting to be a hard 



GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 229 

place for our people. Yes, just as you say, there 's 
no tan to hatch, no place to stay in there, unless you 
pay as much as if you went to a hotel. 'T is n't so 
here. Some places they 're uncivil, but mostly we 
can get wood and water, and a place for a tent, and 
a bite for the old gry [horse]. The country people 
like to see us come, in many places. They 're more 
high-minded and hon'rable here than they are in 
England. If we can cheat them in horse-dealin' they 
stand it as gentlemen always ought to do among 
themselves in such games. Horse-dealin' is horse- 
stealin', in a way, among real gentlemen. If I can 
Jew you or you do me, it 's all square in gamblin', 
and nobody has any call to complain. Therefore, I 
allow that Americans are higher up as gentlemen 
than what they are in England. It is not all of one 
side, like a jug-handle, either. Many of these Amer- 
ican farmers can cheat me, and have done it, and are 
proud of it. Oh, yes; they're much higher toned 
here. In England, if you put off a bavolengro [broken- 
winded horse] on a fellow he comes after you with a 
cTiinamdngri [writ]. Here he goes like a man and 
swindles somebody else with the gry, instead of sneak- 
ing off to a magistrate. 

" Yes," he continued, " England 's a little coun- 
try, very little, indeed, but it is astonishing how many 
Romany s come out of it over here. Do I notice any 
change in them after coming ? I do. When they 
first come, they drink liquor or beer all the time. 
After a while they stop heavy drinking." 

I may here observe that even in England the gyp- 
By, although his getting drunk is too often regulated 
or limited simply by his means, seldom shows in hia 
person the results of long-continued intemperance. 



230 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

Living in the open air, taking much exercise, con- 
stantly practicing boxing, rough riding, and other 
manly sports, he is " as hard as nails," and generally 
lives to a hearty old age. As he very much prefers 
beer to spirits, it may be a question whether excess 
in such drinking is really any serious injury to him 
The ancestors of the common English peasants have 
for a thousand, it may be for two thousand, years or 
more all got drunk on beer, whenever they could 
afford it, and yet a more powerful human being than 
the English peasant does not exist. It may be that 
the weaklings all die at an early age. This I cannot 
deny, nor that those who survive are simply so tough 
that beer cannot kill them. What this gypsy said of 
the impartial and liberal manner in which he and his 
kind are received by the farmers is also true. I once 
conversed on this subject with a gentleman farmer, 
and his remarks were much like those of the Rom. 
I inferred from what he said that the coining of a 
party of gypsy horse-dealers into his neighborhood 
was welcomed much as the passengers on a Southern 
steamboat were wont of old to welcome the proprie- 
tor of a portable faro bank. " I think," said he, 
" that the last time the gypsies were here they left 
more than they took away." An old Rom told me 
once that in some parts of New Jersey they were 
obliged to watch their tents and wagons very care- 
fully for fear of the country people. I do not answer 
for the truth of this. It speaks vast volumes I'm- 
the cleverness of gypsies that they can actually mako 
i living by trading horses in New Spain. 

It is very true that in many parts of America the 
wanderers are welcomed with f,'u.v de joie, or with 
salutes of shot-guns, the guns, unfortunately, being 



GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 231 

shotted and aimed at them. I have mentioned in 
another chapter, on a Gypsy Magic Spell, that once 
in Tennessee, when an old Romany mother had suc- 
ceeded in hoaxing a farmer's wife out of all she had 
in the world, the neighboring farmers took the witch, 
and, with a view to preventing effectually further 
depredation, caused her to pass " through flames ma- 
terial and temporal unto flames immaterial and eter- 
nal ; " that is to say, they burned her alive. But the 
gypsy would much prefer having to deal with lynch- 
ers than with lawyers. Like the hedge-hog, which is 
typically a gypsy animal, he likes better to be eaten 
by those of his own kind than to be crushed into 
dirt by those who do not understand him. This story 
of the hedge-hog was cited from my first gypsy book 
by Sir Charles Dilke, in a speech in which he made 
an application of it to certain conservatives who re- 
mained blindly suffering by their own party. It 
will hold good forever. Gypsies never flourished so 
in Europe as during the days when every man's 
hand was against them. It is said that they raided 
and plundered about Scotland for fifty years before 
they were definitely discovered to be mere maraud- 
ers, for the Scots themselves were so much given 
up to similar pursuits that the gypsies passed unno- 
ticed. 

The American gypsies do not beg, like their Eng- 
lish brothers, and particularly their English sisters. 
This fact speaks volumes for their greater prosperity 
and for the influence which association with a proud 
race has on the poorest people. Our friends at Oak- 
lands always welcomed us as guests. On another 
occasion when we went there, I said to my niece, 
"If we find strangers who do not know us, do not 



232 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

speak at first in Romany. Let us astonish them." 
We came to a tent, before which sat a very dark, old- 
fashioned gypsy woman. I paused before her, and 
said in English, 

" Can you tell a fortune for a young lady ? " 

" She don't want her fortune told," replied the old 
woman, suspiciously and cautiously, or it may be 
with a view of drawing us on. "No, I can't tell fort- 
unes." 

At this the young lady was so astonished that, 
without thinking of what she was saying, or in what 
language, she cried, 

" Dordi ! Can't tute pen dulckerin ? " (Look ! 
Can't you tell fortunes ?) 

This unaffected outburst had a greater effect than 
the most deeply studied theatrical situation could 
have brought about. The old dame stared at me 
and at the lady as if bewildered, and cried, 

" In the name of God, what kind of gypsies are 
you f " 

"Oh! mendui shorn bori chovihani!" cried L., 
laughing; "we are a great witch and a wizard, and 
if you can't tell me my fortune, I '11 tell yours. 
Hold out your hand, and cross mine witli a dollar, 
and I'll tell you as big a lie as you ever penned a 
galderli G-oryio [a green Gentile]." 

"Well," exclaimed the gypsy, "I'll believe that 
you can tell fortunes or do anything! Dordi! dordi! 
but this is wonderful. Yet you 're not the first Rom- 
any rani [lady] I ever met. There 's one in Delaware : 
ftloridiri [very great] lady she is, and true Romany, 
flick o tlx'. jil> if rinkeni adosta [quirk of tongue 
and fair of fare]. Well, I am glad to see you." 

" Who is that talking there ? " cried a man's voice 



GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 233 

from within the tent. He had heard Romany, and 
he spoke it, and came out expecting to see familiar 
faces. His own was a study, as his glance encoun- 
tered mine. As soon as he understood that I came 
as a friend, he gave way to infinite joy, mingled with 
sincerest grief that he had not at hand the means 
of displaying hospitality to such distinguished Rom- 
anys as we evidently were. He bewailed the absence 
of strong drink. Would we have some tea made? 
Would I accompany him to the next tavern, and 
have some beer? All at once a happy thought struck 
him. He went into the tent and brought out a piece 
of tobacco, which I was compelled to accept. Refusal 
would have been unkind, for it was given from the 
very heart. George Borrow tells ns that, in Spain, a 
poor gypsy once brought him a pomegranate as a first 
acquaintanceship token. A gypsy is a gypsy wher- 
ever you find him. 

These were very nice people. The old dame took a 
great liking to L., and showed it in pleasant manners. 
The couple were both English, and liked to talk with 
me of the old country and the many mutual friends 
whom we had left behind. On another visit, L. 
brought a scarlet silk handkerchief, which she had 
bound round her head and tied under her chin in a 
very gypsy manner. It excited, as I anticipated, 
great admiration from the old dame. 

"Ah Jcennd tute dikks rinJcemnowyou look nice. 
That 's the way a Romany lady ought to wear it ! 
Don't she look just as Alfi used to look?" she cried 
to her husband. " Just such eyes and hair ! " 

Here L. took off the diklo, or handkerchief, and 
passed it round the gypsy woman's head, and tied it 
under her chin, saying, -*- 



234: AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

* " I am sure it becomes you much more than it does 
me. Now you look nice : 

" ' Red and yellow for Romany, 

And blue and pink for the Gorgiee.' " 

We rose to depart, the old dame offered back to 
L. her handkerchief, and, on being told to keep it, 
was greatly pleased. I saw that the way in which 
it was given had won her heart. 

" Did you hear what the old woman said while she 
was telling your fortune ? " asked L., after we had 
left the tent. 

" Now, I think of it, I remember that she or you 
had hold of my hand, while I was talking with the 
old man, and he was making merry with niy whisky. 
I was turned away, and around so that I never no- 
ticed what you two were saying." 

" She penned your dukkerin, and it was wonderful. 
She said that she must tell it." 

And here L. told me what the old dye had in- 
sisted on reading in my hand. It was simply very 
remarkable, and embraced an apparent knowledge of 
the past, which would make any credulous person 
believe in her happy predictions of the future. 

"Ah, well," I said, "I suppose the dukk told it to 
her. She may be an eye-reader. A hint dropped 
here and there, unconsciously, the expression of the 
face, and a life's practice will make anybody a witch. 
And if there ever was a, witch's eye, she has it." 

"I would like to have her picture/' said L., "in 
that lullo diklo [red handkerchief]. She looked like 
all the sorceresses of Thessaly and Egypt in one, and, 
as Bulxver says of the. \Yitdi of Vesuvius, was all the 
more terrible for having been beautiful." 

Some time after this we went, with Britannia Lee, 



GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 235 

a-gypsying, not figuratively, but literally, over the 
river into New Jersey. And our first greeting, as we 
touched the ground, was of good omen, and from a 
great man, for it was Walt Whitman. It is not often 
that even a poet meets with three sincerer admirers 
than the venerable bard encountered on this occa- 
sion ; so, of course, we stopped and talked, and L. 
had the pleasure of being the first to communicate 
to Bon Gualtier certain pleasant things which had 
recently been printed of him by a distinguished 
English author, which is always an agreeable task. 
Blessed upon the mountains, or at the Cainden ferry- 
boat, or anywhere, are the feet of anybody who bring- 
eth glad tidings. 

" Well, are you going to see gypsies ? " 
" We are. We three gypsies be. By the abattoir. 
Au revoir." 

And on we went to the place where I had first 
found gypsies in America. All was at first so still 
that it seemed if no one could be camped in the 
spot. 

" Se Jcekno adoi." (There 's nobody there.) 
"Dordi!" cried Britannia, " DikJcava me o tuv te 
tan te wardo.~\ [I see a smoke, a tent, a wagon.] I 
declare, it is my puro pal, my old friend, W." 

And we drew near the tent and greeted its owner, 
who was equally astonished and delighted at seeing 
such distinguished Romany tdni ranis, or gypsy young 
ladies, and brought forth his wife and three really 
beautiful children to do the honors. W. was a good 
specimen of an American-born gypsy, strong, healthy, 
clean, and temperate, none the worse for wear in 
out-of-dooring, through tropical summers and terrible 
winters. Like all American Romanys, he was more 



236 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

straightforward than most of his race in Europe 
All Romanys are polite, but many of the European 
kind are most uncomfortably and unconsciously naive. 
Strange that the most innocent people should be 
those who most offend morality. I knew a lady 
once Heaven grant that I may never meet with 
such another ! who had been perfectly educated 
in entire purity of soul. And I never knew any 
devergondee who could so shock, shame, and pain 
decent people as this Agnes did in her sweet igno- 
rance. 

" I shall never forget the first day you came to my 
camp," said W. to Britannia. "Ah, you astonished 
me then. You might have knocked me down with a 
feather. And I did n't know what to say. You 
came in a carriage with two other ladies. And you 
jumped out first, and walked up to me, and cried, 
'iSa'shdnf That stunned me, but I answered, 
4 ScCshdnS Then I did n't speak Romanes to you, 
for I did n't know but what you kept it a secret 
from the other two ladies, and I did n't wish to be- 
tray you. And when you began to talk it as deep as 
any old Romany I ever heard, and pronounced it so 
rich and beautiful, I thought I 'd never heard the 
like. I thought you must be a witch." 

" Awer me shorn chovihani" (but I am a witch), 
cried the lady. " Mukka menjd adr o tan." (Let 
us go into the tent.) So we entered, and sat round the 
fire, and asked news of all the wanderers of the roads, 
and the young ladies, having filled their pockets with 
sweets, produced them for the children, and we were, 
;s much at home as we had ever been in any salon ; 
for it was a familiar scene to us all, though it would, 
perhaps, have been a strange one to the reader, had 




GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 237 

he by chance, walking that lonely way in the twi- 
light, looked into the tent and asked his way, and 
there found two young ladies bien mises with 
their escort, all very much at their ease, and talking 
Romany as if they had never known any other tongue 
from the cradle. 

" What is the charm of all this ? " It is that if one 
has a soul, and does not live entirely reflected from 
the little thoughts and little ways of a thousand other 
little people, it is well to have at all times in his 
heart some strong hold of nature. No matter how 
much we may be lost in society, dinners, balls, busi- 
ness, we should never forget that there is an eternal 
sky with stars over it all, a vast, mysterious earth with 
terrible secrets beneath us, seas, mountains, rivers, 
and forests away and around ; and that it is from 
these and what is theirs, and not from gas-lit, stifling 
follies, that all strength and true beauty must come. 
To this life, odd as he is, the gypsy belongs, and to be 
sometimes at home with him by wood and wold takes 
us for a time from "the world." If I express my- 
self vaguely and imperfectly, it is only to those who 
know not the charm of nature, its ineffable soothing 
sympathy, its life, its love. Gypsies, like children, 
feel this enchantment as the older grown do not. To 
them it is a song without words ; would they be hap- 
pier if the world brought them to know it as words 
without song, without music or melody? I never read 
a right old English ballad of sumere when the leaves 
{ire grene or the not-broune maid, with its rustling as 
of sprays quivering to the song of the wode-wale, with- 
out thinking or feeling deeply how those who wrote 
them would have been bound to the Romany. It is 
ridiculous to say that gypsies are not "educated" 



238 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

to nature and art, when, in fact, they live it. I 
sometimes suspect that aesthetic culture takes more 
true love of nature out of the soul than it inspires. 
One would not say anything of a wild bird or deer 
being deficient in a sense of that beauty of which it 
is a part. There are infinite grades, kinds, or varie- 
ties of feeling of nature, and every man is perfectly 
satisfied that his is the true one. For my own part, 
I am not sure that a rabbit, in the dewy grass, does 
not feel the beauty of nature quite as much as Mr. 
Ruskin, and much more than I do. 

No poet has so far set forth the charm of gypsy life 
better than Lenau has done, in his highly-colored, 
quickly-expressive ballad of " Die drei Zigeuner," of 
which I here give a translation into English and an 
other into Anglo-American Romany. 

THE THREE GYPSIES. 

I saw three (I\Y<\ men, one day, 

Camped in a licit! together, 
As my wagon went its weary way, 

All over the sand and heather. 

And one of the three whom I saw there 

Had his fiddle just before him, 
And played for himself a stormy air, 

While the evening-red shone o'er him. 

And the second puffed his pipe again 

Serenely and undaunted, 
As if he at least of earthly men 

Had all the luck that he wanted. 

In sleep and comfort the last was laid, 

In a tree his cymbal T lying, 
Over its strings the breezes played, 

O'er his heart a dream went flying. 

1 Zimbel. The cymbal of the Austrian gypsies is a stringed instro 
ent, like the zitter. 



GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 239 

Ragged enough were all the three, 

Their garments in holes and tatters ; 
But they seemed to defy right sturdily 

The world and all worldly matters. 

Thrice to the soul they seemed to say, 

When earthly trouble tries it, 
How to fiddle, sleep it, and smoke it away, 

And so in three ways despise it. 

And ever anon I look around, 

As my wagon onward presses, 
At the gypsy faces darkly browned, 

And the long black flying tresses. 



TRIN ROMANI CHALIA. 

Dikdom me trin geeria 
Sar yeckno a tacho Rom, 

Sa miro wardo ghias adur 
Apre a wafedo drom. 

yeckto sos boshengero, 
Yuv kellde pes-kokero, 

O kamlo-dud te perele 
Sos lullo apre lo. 

duito sar a swagele 

Dikde 'pre' lestes tuv, 
Ne kamde kumi, penava md 

'Dre sar o midiivels puv. 

trinto sovade kushto-bak 
Lest 'zimbel adre' rukk se, 

O bavol kelld' pre i tavia, 
O sutto 'pre leskro zl. 

Te sar i- lengheri rudaben 
Shan kattcrdi-chingerdo 

Awer me penav' i Romani chals 
Ne kesserden chi pa lo. 



240 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

Trin dromia lende sikkerden, kan 
Sar dikela wafedo, 

Ta bosher, tuver te sove-a-lc 
Aja sa bachtalo. 

Dikdora palal, sa ghiom adur 
Talla yeckno Roman! chal 

Tre" lengheri kali-brauni mui, 
Te lengheri kali bal. 



II. 

THE CROCUS-PITCHER.* 
(PHILADELPHIA.) 

IT was a fine spring noon, and the corner of Fourth 
and Library streets in Philadelphia was like a rock 
in the turn of a rapid river, so great was the crowd 
of busy business men which flowed past. Just out of 
the current a man paused, put down a parcel which 
he carried, turned it into a table, placed on it several 
vials, produced a bundle of hand-bills, and began, in 
the language of his tribe, to cant that is, cantare, to 
sing the virtues of a medicine which was certainly 
patent in being spread out by him to extremest thin- 
ness. In an instant there were a hundred people 
round him. He seemed to be well known and waited 
for. I saw at a glance what he was. The dark 
eye and brown face indicated a touch of the diddikai, 
or one with a little gypsy blood in his veins, while 
his fluent patter and unabashed boldness showed a 
long familiarity with race-grounds and the road, or 
with the Cheap-Jack and Dutch auction business, 
and other pursuits requiring unlimited eloquence and 
impudence. How many a man of learning, nay 
of genius, might have paused and envied that vag- 
abond the gifts which were worth so little to their 
possessor ! But what was remarkable about him 
was that instead of endeavoring to conceal any gypsy 

1 Crocus, in common slang an itinerant quack, mountebank, or seller 
of medicine ; Pitcher, a street dealer. 
16 



242 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

indications, they were manifestly exaggerated. He 
wore a broad-brimmed hat and ear-rings and a red 
embroidered waistcoat of the most forcible old Rom- 
any pattern, which was soon explained by his words. 
" Sorry to keep you waiting," he said. " I am al- 
ways sorry to detain a select and genteel audience. 
But I was detained myself by a very interesting inci- 
dent. I was invited to lunch with a wealthy German 
gentleman ; a very wealthy German, I say, one of the 
pillars of your city and front door-step of your coun- 
cil, and who would be the steeple of your exchange, 
if it had one. And on arriving at his house he re- 
marked, ' Toctor, by tain you koom yust in goot dime, 
for -mine frau und die cook ish bote fall sick mit some- 
ding in a hoory, und I kess she Ml die pooty quick- 
sudden.' Unfortunately I had with me, gentlemen, 
but a single dose of my world-famous Gypsy's Elixir 
and Romany Pharmacopheionepenthe. (That is the 
name, gentlemen, but as J detest quackery I term 
it simply the, Gypsy's Elixir.) Wlu-n the German 
gentleman learned that in all probability but one life 
could be saved he said, 4 Veil, denn, doctor, snbbose 
you gifes dat dose to de cook. For mine frau ish 
so goot dat it 's all right mit her. She 's reaty to 
tie. But de boor gook ish a sinner, ash I knows, und 
not reaty for de next world. And dere ish no vmn- 
ans in town dat can gook mine saner-kraut asli she 
do.' Fortunately, gentlemen, I found in an unknown 
corner of a, forgotten pocket an unsuspected bottle of 
the Gypsy's Elixir, and both interesting lives were 
saved with such promptitude, punctuality, neatness 
and dispatch that the cook proceeded immediately to 
conclude the preparation of our meal (thank you 
sir, one dollar, if you please, sir. You say I only 



THE CROCUS-PITCHER. 243 

charged half a dollar yesterday ! That was for a 
smaller bottle, sir. Same size, as this, was it ? Ah, 
yes, I gave you a large bottle by mistake, so you 
owe me fifty cents. Never mind, don't give it back. 
I '11 take the half dollar.") 

All of this had been spoken with the utmost volu- 
bility. As I listened I almost fancied myself again 
in England, and at a country fair. Taking in his 
audience at a glance, I saw his eye rest on me ere it 
flitted, and he resumed, 

" We gypsies are, as you know, a remarkable race, 
and possessed of certain rare secrets, which have all 
been formulated, concentrated, dictated, and plenipo- 
tentiarated into this idealized Elixir. If I were a 
mountebank or a charlatan I would claim that it 
cures a hundred diseases. Charlatan is a French 
word for a quack. I speak French, gentlemen ; I 
speak nine languages, and can tell you the Hebrew 
for an old umbrella. The Gypsy's Elixir cures colds, 
gout, all nervous affections, with such cutaneous disor- 
ders as are diseases of the skin, debility, sterility, 
hostility, and all the illities that flesh is heir to except 
what it can't, such as small-pox and cholera. It has 
cured cholera, but it don't claim to do it. Others 
claim to cure, but can't. I am not a charlatan, but an 
Ann-Eliza. That is the difference between me and a 
lady, as the pig said when he astonished his missus 
by blushing at her remarks to the postman. (Better 
have another bottle, sir. Have rft you the change ? 
Never mind, you can owe me fifty cents. I know a 
gentleman when I see one.) I was recently Down East 
in Maine, where they are so patriotic, they all put the 
stars and stripes into their beds for sheets, have the 
Fourth of July three hundred and sixty-five times in 



244 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

the year, and eat the Declaration of Independence fot 
breakfast. And they would n't buy a bottle of my 
Gypsy's Elixir till they heard it was good for the 
Constitution, whereupon they immediately purchased 
my entire stock. Don't lose time in securing this in- 
valuable blessing to those who feel occasional pains 
in the lungs. This is not taradiddle. I am engaged 
to lecture this afternoon before the Medical Associa- 
tion of Germantown, as on Wednesday before the Uni- 
versity of Baltimore ; for though I sell medicine here 
in the streets, it is only, upon my word of honor, that 
the poor may benefit, and the lowly as well as the 
learned know how to prize the philanthropic and ec- 
centric gypsy." 

He run on with his patter for some time in this 
vein, and sold several vials of his panacea, and then in 
due time ceased, and went into a bar-room, which I also 
entered. I found him in what looked like prospective 
trouble, for a policeman was insisting on purchasing 
his medicine, and on having one of his hand-bills. He 
was remonstrating, when I quietly said to him in Rom- 
any, " Don't trouble yourself ; you were not mak- 
ing any disturbance." He took no apparent notice of 
what I said beyond an almost imperceptible wink, 
but soon left the room, and when I had followed him 
jito the street, and we were out of ear-shot, he sud- 
denly turned on me and said, 

" Well, you are a swell, for a Romany. How do 
you do it up to such a high peg?" 

"Do what?" 

" Do the whole lay, look so gorgeous ? " 

"Why, I 'm no better dressed than you are, not 
BO well, if you come to that vongree 1 ' (waistcoat). 

" 'T is n't that, 't is n't the clothes. It 's the air 



THE CROCUS-PITCHER. 245 

and the style. Anybody 'd believe you 'd had no end 
of an education. I could make ten dollars a patter if 
I could do it as natural as you do. Perhaps you 'd 
like to come in on halves with me as a bonnet. No ? 
Well, I suppose you have a better line. You 've been 
lucky. I tell you, you astonished me when you rak- 
kered, though I spotted you in the crowd for one who 
was off the color of the common Gorgios, or, as the 
Yahudi say, the Croyim. No, I carn't rakker, or none 
to speak of, and noways as deep as you, though I was 
born in a tent on Battersea Common and grew up a 
fly fakir. What 's the drab made of that I sell in 
these bottles? Why, the old fake, of course, you 
need n't say you don't know that. I talk good English. 
Yes, I know I do. A fakir is bothered out of his life 
and chaffed out of half his business when he drops his 
^'s. A man can do anything when he must, and I 
must talk fluently and correctly to succeed in such a 
business. Would 1 like a drop of something? You 
paid for the last, now you must take a drop with me. 
Do I know of any Romanys in town? Lots of them. 
There is a ken in Lombard Street with a regular fly 
mort, but on second thoughts we won't go there, 

an d oh, I say a very nice place in Street. 

The landlord is a Yahud ; his wife can rakker you, 
I 'm sure. She 's a good lot, too." 

And while on the way I will explain that my ac- 
quaintance was not to be regarded as a real gypsy. 
He was one of that large nomadic class with a tinge 
of gypsy blood who have grown up as waifs and strays, 
and who, having some innate cleverness, do the best 
they can to live without breaking the law much. 
They deserve pity, for they have never been cared 
*or; they owe nothing to society for kindness, and 



246 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

yet they are held even more strictly to account 
by the law than if they had been regularly Sunday- 
schooled from babyhood. This man when he spoke 
of Romanys did not mean real gypsies ; he used the 
word as it occurs in Ainsworth's song of 

"Nix my dolly, pals fake away. 
And here I am both tight and free, 
A regular rollicking Romany." 

For he meant Bohemian in its widest and wildest 
sense, and to him all that was apart from the world 
was his world, whether it was Rom or Yahudi, and 
whether it conversed in Romany or Schmussen, or 
any other tongue unknown to the Gentiles. He had 
indeed no home, and had never known one. 

It was not difficult to perceive that the place to 
which he led me was devoted in the off hours to some 
other business besides the selling of liquor. It was 
neat and quiet, in fact rather sleepy ; but its card, 
which was handed to me, stated in a large capital 
head-line that it was OPEN ALL NIGHT, and that 
there was pool at all hours. I conjectured that a lit- 
tle game might also be performed there at all hours, 
and that, like the fountain of Jupiter Ammon, it be- 
came livelier as it grew later, and that it certainly 
would not be on the full boil before midnight. 

"Scheikerfur mich, der Isch will jam soreff shaske- 
nen " (Beer for me and brandy for him), I said to the 
landlord, who at once shook my hand and saluted me 
with tSholem I Even so did Ben Daoud of Jerusalem, 
not long ago. Ben knew me not, and I was buying 
a pocket-book of him at his open-air stand in Market 
Street, and talking German, while he was endeavor- 
ing to convince me that I ought to give five centa 
more for it than I had given for a similar case the 



THE CROCUS-PITCHER. 247 

day before, on the ground that it was of a different 
color, or under color that the leather had a different 
ground, I forget which. In talking I let fall the word 
kesef (silver). In an instant Ben had taken my hand, 
and said Sholem aleichum, and " Can you talk Span- 
ish ? " which was to show that he was superfine 
Sephardi, and not common Ashkenaz. 

"Yes," resumed the crocus-fakir ; "a man must be 
able to talk English very fluently, pronounce it cor- 
rectly, and, above all things, keep his temper, if he 
would do anything that requires chanting or patter- 
ing. How did I learn it? A man can learn to do 
anything when it 's business and his living depends on 
it. The people who crowd around me in the streets 
cannot pronounce English decently; not one in a 
thousand here can say laugh, except as a sheep says 
it. Suppose that you are a Cheap Jack selling things 
from a van. About once in an hour some tipsy fel- 
low tries to chaff you. He hears your tongue going, 
and that sets his off. He hears the people laugh at 
your jokes, and he wants them to laugh at his. When 
you say you 're selling to raise money for a burned- 
out widow, he asks if she is n't your wife. Then you 
answer him, ' No, but the kind-hearted old woman 
who found you on the door-step and brought you up 
to the begging business.' If you say you are selling 
goods under cost, it 's very likely some yokel will cry 
out, ' Stolen, hey ? ' And you patter as quick as light- 
ning, 4 Very likely ; I thought your wife sold 'em to 
ine too cheap for the good of somebody's clothes-line.' 
If you show yourself his superior in language and wit, 
the people will buy better ; they always prefer a gen- 
tleman to a cad. Bless me! why, a swell in a dress- 
coat and kid gloves, with good patter and hatter, can 



248 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

sell a hundred rat-traps while a dusty cad in a flash 
kingsman would sell one. As for the replies, most 
of them are old ones. As the men who interrupt you 
are nearly all of the same kind, and have heads of 
very much the same make, with an equal number of 
corners, it follows that they all say nearly the same 
things. Why, I 've heard two duffers cry out the 
same thing at once to me. So you soon have answers 
cut and dried for them. We call 'em cocks, because 
they 're just like half-penny ballads, all ready printed, 
while the pitcher always has the one you want ready 
at his finger-ends. It is the same in all canting. I 
knew a man once who got his living by singing of 
evenings in the gaffs to the piano, and making up 
verses on the gentlemen and ladies as they came in ; 
and very nice verses he made, too, always as smooth 
as butter. How do you do it? I asked him one day. 
'Well, you wouldn't believe it,' said he; 'but they're 
mostly cocks. The best ones I buy for a tanner [six- 
pence] apiece. If a tall gentleman with a big beard 
comes in, I strike a deep chord and sing, 

" ' This tall and handsome party, 

With such a lot of hair, 
Who seems so grand and hearty, 

Must be a militaire; 
We like to see a swell come 

Who looks so distinr/uf, 
So let us bid him welcome, 

And hope he '11 find us gay.' 

" The last half can be used for anybody. That *s 
the way the improvisatory business is manned for 
visitors. Why, it's the same with fortune-telling. 
You have noticed that. Well, if the Gorgios had, it 
would have been all up with the fake long ago. The 
>ld woman has the same sort of girls come to her 



THE CROCUS-PITCHER. 249 

with the same old stories, over and over again, and 
she has a hundred dodges and gets a hundred straight 
tips where nobody else would see anything ; and of 
course she has the same replies all ready. There is 
nothing like being glib. And there 's really a great 
deal of the same in the regular doctor business, as I 
know, coining close on to it and calling myself one. 
Why, I 've been called into a regular consultation in 
Chicago, where I had an office, 'pon my honor I 
was, and no great honor neither. It was all patter, 
and I pattered 'em dumb." 

I began to think that the fakir could talk forever 
and ever faster. If he excelled in his business, he 
evidently practiced at all times to do so. I intimated 
as much, and he at once proceeded fluently to illus- 
trate this point also. 

" You hear men say every day that if they only had 
an education they would do great things. What it 
would all come to with most of them is that they 
would talk so as to shut other men up and astonish 
'em. They have not an idea above that. I never 
had any schooling but the roads and race-grounds, 
but I can talk the hat off a lawyer, and that 's all I 
can do. Any man of them could talk well if he 
tried ; but none of them will try, and so they go 
through life, telling you how clever they 'd have been 
if somebody else had only done something for them, 
instead of doing something for themselves. So you 
must be going. Well, I hope I shall see you again. 
Tust come up when you 're going by and say that 
your wife was raised from the dead by my Elixir, and 
that it 's the best medicine you ever had. And if you 
want to see some regular tent gypsies, there 's a camp 
of them now just four miles from here ; real old style 



250 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

Romanys. Go out on the road four miles, and you '11 
find them just off the side, anybody will show you 
the place. Sarishan ! " 

I was sorry to read in the newspaper, a few days 
after, that the fakir had been really arrested and im- 
prisoned for selling a quack medicine. For in this 
land of liberty it makes an enormous difference 
whether you sell by advertisement in the newspapers 
or on the sidewalk, which shows that there is one law 
for the rich and another for the poor, even in a re- 
public. 



III. 

GYPSIES IN CAMP. 
(NEW JERSEY.) 

THE Weather had put on his very worst clothes, 
and was never so hard at work for the agricultural 
interests, or so little inclined to see visitors, as on the 
Sunday afternoon when I started gypsying. The 
rain and the wind were fighting one with another, 
and both with the mud, even as the Jews in Jerusa- 
lem fought with themselves, and both with the Ro- 
mans, which was the time when the Shaket, or 
butcher, killed the ox who drank the water which 
quenched the fire which the reader has often heard 
all about, yet not knowing, perhaps, that the house 
which Jack built was the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. 
It was with such reflections that I beguiled time on 
a long walk, for which I was not unfitly equipped in 
corduroy trousers, with a long Ulster and a most 
disreputable cap befitting a stable-boy. The rig, how- 
ever, kept out the wet, and I was too recently from 
England to care much that it was raining. I had 
seen the sun on color about thirty times altogether 
during the past year, and so had not as yet learned 
to miss him. It is on record that when the Shah 
was in England a lady said to him, " Can it be pos- 
sible, your highness, that there are in your dominions 
people who worship the sun ? " " Yes," replied the 
monarch, musingly; "and so would you, if you could 
nly see him." 



252 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

The houses became fewer as I went on, till at last 
I reached the place near which I knew the gypsies 
must be camped. As is their custom in England, 
they had so established themselves as not to be seen 
from the road. The instinct which they display in 
thus getting near people, and yet keeping out of their 
sight, even as rats do, is remarkable. I thought I 
knew the town of Brighton, in England, thoroughly, 
and had explored all its nooks, and wondered that I 
had never found any gypsies there. One day I went 
out with a Romany acquaintance, who, in a short 
time, took me to half a dozen tenting-places, round 
corners in mysterious by-ways. It often happens 
that the spots which they select to Tiateh the tan, or 
pitch the tent, are picturesque bits, such as artists 
love, and all gypsies are fully appreciative of beauty 
in this respect. It is not a week, as I write, since I 
heard an old horse-dealing veteran of the roads apol- 
ogize to me with real feeling for the want of a view 
near his tent, just as any other man might have ex- 
cused the absence of pictures from his walls. The 
most beautiful spot for miles around Williamsport, in 
Pennsylvania, a river dell, which any artist would 
give a day to visit, is the favorite camping-ground of 
the Romany. Woods and water, rocks and loneliness, 
make it lovely by day, and when, at eventide, the fire 
of the wanderers lights up the scene, it also lights 
up in the soul many a memory of tents in the wilder- 
ness, of pictures in the Louvre, of Arabs and of Wou- 
vermamiH and belated walks by the Thames, and of 
Salvator Rosa. Ask me why I haunt gypsydom 
It has put me into a thousand sympathies with nat- 
ure and art, which I had never known without it. 
The Romany, like the red Indian, and all who dwel. 



GYPSIES IN CAMP. 258 

by wood and wold as outlawes wont to do, are the 
best human links to bind us to their home-scenery, 
and lead us into its inner life. What constitutes the 
antithetic charm of those wonderful lines, 

" Afar iu the desert, I love to ride, 
With the silent bush-boy alone by my side/' 

but the presence of the savage who belongs to the 
scene, and whose being binds the poet to it, and 
blends him with it as the flux causes the fire to melt 
the gold ? 

I left the road, turned the corner, and saw before 
me the low, round tents, with smoke rising from the 
tops, dark at first and spreading into light gray, like 
scalp-locks and feathers upon Indian heads. Near 
them were the gayly-painted vans, in which I at once 
observed a difference from the more substantial-look- 
ing old-country vardo. The whole scene was so Eng- 
lish that I felt a flutter at the heart : it was a bit 
from over the sea ; it seemed as if hedge-rows should 
have been round, and an old Gothic steeple looking 
over the trees. I thought of the last gypsy camp I 
had seen near Henley-on-Thames, and wished Plato 
Buckland were with me to share the fun which one 
was always sure to have on such an occasion in his 
eccentric company. But now Plato was, like his fa- 
ther in the song, 

" Ditro pardel the boro pani" 
Far away over the broad-rolling sea, 

and I must introduce myself. There was not a sign 
of life about, save in a sorrowful hen, who looked 
as if she felt bitterly what it was to be a Pariah 
among poultry and a down-pin, and who cluttered as 
If she might have had a history of being borne from 
her bower in the dark midnight by desperate African 



254 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

reivers, of a wild moonlit flitting and crossing black 
roaring torrents, drawn all the while by the neck, as a 
Turcoman pulls a Persian prisoner on an "alaman," 
with a rope, into captivity, and finally of being sold 
unto the Egyptians. I drew near a tent : all was 
silent, as it always is in a tan when the foot-fall of 
the stranger is heard ; but I knew that it was packed 
with inhabitants. 

I called in Romany my greeting, and bade some- 
body come out. And there appeared a powerfully 
buiU, dark-browed, good-looking man of thirty, who 
was as gypsy as Plato himself. He greeted me very 
civilly, but with some surprise, and asked me what 
he could do for me. 

"'Ask me in out of the rain, pal," I replied. " You 
don't suppose I 've come four miles to see you and 
stop out here, do you ? " 

This was, indeed, reasonable, and I was invited to 
enter, which I did, and found myself in a scene which 
would have charmed Callot or Goya. There was no 
door or window to the black tent ; what light there 
was came through a few rifts and rents and mingled 
witli the dull gleam of a smoldering fire, producing ji 
perfect Rembrandt blending of rosy-red with dreamy 
half-darkness. It was a real witch-aura, and the den- 
izens were worthy of it. As my eyes gradually grew 
to the gloom, I saw that on one side four brown old 
Romany sorceresses were " beshui<j apre ye pus " (sit- 
ting on the straw), as the song has it, with deeper 
masses of darkness behind them, in which other forms 
were barely visible. Their black eyes all flashed up 
together at me, like those of a row of eagles in a 
; and I saw in a second that, witli men and all 
I was in a party who were anything but milksops 



GYPSIES IN CAMP. 255 

in fact, with as regularly determined a lot of hard 
old Romanys as ever battered a policeman. I confess 
that a feeling like a thrill of joy came over me a 
memory of old days and by-gone scenes over the 
sea when I saw this, and knew they were not did- 
dikais, or half-breed mumpers. On the other side, 
several young people, among them three or four good- 
looking girls, were eating their four-o'clock meal 
from a canvas spread on the ground. There were 
perhaps twenty persons in the place, including the 
children who swarmed about. 

Even in a gypsy tent something depends on the 
style of a self-introduction by a perfect stranger. 
Stepping forward, I divested myself of my Ulster, 
and handed it to a nice damsel, giving her special 
injunction to fold it up and lay it by. My mise en 
scene appeared to meet with approbation, and I stood 
forth and remarked, 

" Here I am, glad to see you ; and if you want to 
see a regular Romany rye [gypsy gentleman], just 
over from England, now 's your chance. Sarizhan!" 

And I received, as I expected, a cordial welcome. 
I was invited to sit down and eat, but excused myself 
as having just come from hdbben, or food, and settled 
myself to a cigar. But while everybody was polite, 
I felt that under it all there was a reserve, a chill. 
I was altogether too heavy a mystery. I knew my 
friends, and they did not know me. Something, how- 
ever, now took place which went far to promote con- 
viviality. The tent-flap was lifted, and there entered 
an elderly woman, who, as a gypsy, might have been 
the other four in one, she was so quadruply dark, so 
fourfold uncanny, so too-too witch-like in her eyes. 
The others had so far been reserved as to speaking 



256 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

Romany; she, glancing at me keenly, began at once 
to talk it very fluently, without a word of English, 
with the intention of testing me ; but as I understood 
her perfectly, and replied with a burning gush of the 
same language, being, indeed, glad to have at last 
" got into my plate," we were friends in a minute 
I did not know then that I was talking with a celeb- 
rity whose name has even been groomily recorded in 
an English book ; but I found at once that she was 
truly " a character." She had manifestly been sent 
for to test the stranger, and I knew this, and made 
myself agreeable, and was evidently found tacho, or 
all right. It being a rule, in fact, with few excep- 
tions, that when you really like people, in a friendly 
way, and are glad to be among them, they never fail 
to find it out, and the jury always comes to a favor- 
able verdict. 

And so we sat and talked on in the monotone in 
which Romany is generally spoken, like an Indian 
song, while, like an Indian drum, the rain puttered 
an accompaniment on the tightly drawn tent. Those 
who live in cities, and who are always realizing self, 
and thinking how they think, and are while awake 
given up to introverting vanity, never live in song. 
To do this one must be a child, an Indian, a dweller 
in fields and green forests, a brother of the rain and 
road-puddles and rolling streams, and a friend of 
the rustling leaves and the summer orchestra of frogs 
and crickets and rippling ^rass. Those who hear 
this music and think to it never think about it; 
those who live only in books never sing to it in soul. 
As there are dreams which will not be remembered 
or known to reason, so this music shrinks from it. It 
is wonderful how beauty perishes like a shade-grown 



GYPSIES IN CAMP. 257 

flower before the sunlight of analysis. It is dying 
out all the world over in women, under the influence 
of cleverness and " style ; " it is perishing in poetry 
and art before criticism ; it is wearing away from man- 
liness, through priggishness ; it is being crushed out 
of true gentleness of heart and nobility of soul by 
the pessimist puppyism of miching Malloekos. But 
nature is eternal and will return. When man has 
run one of his phases of culture fairly to the end, 
and when the fruit is followed by a rattling rococo 
husk, then comes a winter sleep, from which he 
awakens to grow again as a child-flower. We are at 
the very worst of such a time ; but there is a morn- 
ing redness far away, which shows that the darkness 
is ending, the winter past, the rain is over and gone. 
Arise, and come away ! 

" Sossi kair'd tute to av'akai pardel o boro pani?" 
(And what made you come here across the broad 
water ?) said the good old dame confidentially and 
kindly, in the same low monotone. " Si lesti chorin 
a gry ? " (Was it stealing a horse ?) 

Dum, dum, dum, patter, patter, dum ! played the 
rain. 

" Avali I dikked your romus kaliko " (I saw your 
husband yesterday), remarked some one aside to a 
girl. 

Dum, dum, dum, patter, patter, dum ! 

" No, mother deari, it was not a horse, for I am on 
a better, higher lay." 

Dum, dum, dum, patter, patter, dum ! 

" He is a first-rate dog, but mine 's as good." 

Dum, dum, dum, patter, dum! 

" Tacho ! There 's money to be made by a gen- 
tleman like you by telling fortunes." 
17 



258 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

Dum, dum, dum, patter, dum ! 

" Yes, a five-hund red-dollar hit sometimes. But, 
tye, I work upon a better lay." 

Dum, dum, dum, patter, dum ! 

" Perhaps you are a boro drabengro " (a great 
physician). 

Dum, dum, dum, patter, dum I 

" It was away among the rocks that he fell into 
the reeds, half in the water, and kept still till they 
went by." 

" If any one is ill among you, I may be of use." 

Dum, dum, dum, patter, dum ! 

" And what a wind ! It blows as if the good Lord 
were singing I Kusbti chirus se atch a-kerri." 
(This is a pleasant day to be at home.) 

Dum, dum, dum, patter, dum ! 

"I thought you were a doctor, for you were going 
about in the town with the one who sells medicine. 
I heard of it." 

Dum, dum, dum, patter, dum ! 

" Do not hurry away ! Come again and see us. I 
think the Coopers are all out in Ohio." 

Dum, dum, dum, patter, dum ! 

The cold wind and slight rain seemed refreshing 
and even welcome, as I went out into the cold air. 
The captain showed me his stock of fourteen horses 
and mules, and we interchanged views as to the best 
method of managing certain maladies in such stock. 
I had been most kindly entertained ; indeed, with the 
home kindliness which good people in the country 
show to some hitherto unseen and unknown relative 
who descends to them from the great world of the 
city. Not but that my friends did not know cities 
and men as well as Ulysses, but even Ulysses some* 



GYPSIES IN GAMP. 259 

times met with a marvel. In after days I became 
quite familiar with the several families who made the 
camp, and visited them in sunshine. But they al- 
ways occur to me in memory as in a deep Rembrandt 
picture, a wonderful picture, and their voices as in 
vocal chiaroscuro ; singing to the wind without and 
the rain on the tent, 

Z, dum, dum, patter ', dum ! 



IV. 

HOUSE GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 

THIS chapter was written by my niece through 
marriage, Miss Elizabeth Robins. It is a part of an 
article which was published in " The Century," and it 
sets forth certain wanderings in seeking old houses in 
the city of Philadelphia. 

All along the lower part of Race Street, saith the 
lady, are wholesale stores and warehouses of every 
description. Some carts belonging to one of them 
had just been unloaded. The stevedores who do this 
all negroes were resting while they waited for 
the next load. They were great powerful men, se- 
lected for their strength, and were of many hues, from 
cafe au lait, or coffee much milked, up to the browned 
or black-scorched berry itself, while the very athletce 
were coal-black. They wore blue overalls, and on 
their heads they had thrown old coffee-bags, which, 
resting on their foreheads, passed behind their ears 
and hung loosely down their backs. It was in fact 
the liaik or bag-cloak of the East, and it made a won- 
derfully effective Arab costume. One of them was 
half leaning, half sitting, on a pile of bags ; his Her- 
culean arms were folded, and he had unconsciously 
assumed an air of dignity and defiance. He might 
have passed for an African chief. When we see such 
men in Egypt or other sunny countries outre mer, 
we become artistically eloquent ; tut it rarely occurs 



HOUSE GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 261 

to sketches and word-painters to do much business 
in the home-market. 

The mixture of races in our cities is rapidly increas- 
ing, and we hardly notice it. Yet it is coming to pass 
that a large part of our population is German and 
Irish, and that our streets within ten years have be- 
come fuller of Italian fruit dealers and organ-grinders, 
so that Gives sum Romanus (I am a Roman citizen), 
when abroad, now means either " I possess a monkey " 
or" I sell pea-nuts." Jews from Jerusalem peddle 
pocket-books on our sidewalks, Chinamen are monop- 
lizing our washing and ironing, while among labor- 
ing classes are thousands of Scandinavians, Bohemi- 
ans, and other Slaves. The prim provincial element 
which predominated in my younger years is yielding 
before this influx of foreigners, and Quaker monotony 
and stern conservatism are vanishing, while Philadel- 
phia becomes year by year more cosmopolite. 

As we left the handsome negroes and continued 
our walk on Water Street an Italian passed us. He 
was indeed very dirty and dilapidated ; his clothes 
were of the poorest, and he carried a rag-picker's bag 
over his shoulder ; but his face, as he turned it towards 
us, was really beautiful. 

" Siete Italiano ? " (Are you an Italian?) asked 
my uncle. 

" Si, signore " (Yes, sir), he answered, showing all 
his white teeth, and opening his big brown eyes very 
wide. 

" E come lei place questo paese ? " (And how do 
you like this country ?) 

"Not at all. It is too cold," was his frank answer, 
and laughing good-humoredly he continued his search 
through the gutters. He would have made a good 



262 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

model for an artist, for he had what we do not always 
see in Italians, the real southern beauty of face and 
expression. Two or three weeks after this encounter, 
we were astonished at meeting on Chestnut Street a 
little man, decently dressed, who at once manifested 
the most extraordinary and extravagant symptoms of 
delighted recognition. Never saw I mortal so grin-fall, 
so bowing. As we went on and crossed the street, 
and looked back, he was waving his hat in the air 
with one hand, while he made gestures of delight 
with the other. It was the little Italian rag-picker. 

Then along and afar, till we met a woman, decently 
enough dressed, with jet-black eyes and hair, and look- 
ing not unlike a gypsy. " A Romany ! " I cried 
with delight. Her red shawl made me think of gyp- 
sies, and when I caught her eye I saw the indescrib- 
ble flash of the Jcdlorat, or black blood. It is very 
curious that Hindus, IVrsiuns, and gypsies have in 
common an expression of the eye which distinguishes 
them from all other Oriental races, and chief in this 
expression is the Romany. Captain Newbold, who 
first investigated the gypsies of Egypt, declares that, 
however disguised, he could always detect them by 
their glance, which is unlike that of any other human 
being, though something resembling it is often seen 
in the ruder type of the rural American. I believe 
myself that there is something in the gypsy eye which 
is inexplicable, and which enables its possessor to see 
farther through that strange mill-stone, the human 
soul, than I can explain. Any one who has ever seen 
an old fortune-teller of " the people " keeping some 
simple-minded maiden by the hand, while she holds her 
by her glittering eye, like the Ancient Mariner, with 
a basilisk stare, will agree with me. As Scheele de 



HOUSE GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 263 

Vere writes, " It must not be forgotten that the hu- 
man eye has, beyond question, often a power which 
far transcends the ordinary purposes of sight, and 
approaches the boundaries of magic." 

But one glance, and my companion whispered, 
"Answer me in Romany when I speak, and don't 
seem to notice her." And then, in loud tone, he re- 
marked, while looking across the street, 

" Adovo 's a kushto puro rinkeno ker adoi." (That 
is a nice old pretty house there.) 

" Avali, rya " (Yes, sir), I replied. 

There was a perceptible movement by the woman 
in the red shawl to keep within ear-shot of us. Mine 
uncle resumed, 

" Boro kushto covva se ta rakker a jib te kek G-orgio 
nnella" (It 's nice to talk a language that no Gen- 
tile knows.) 

The red shawl was on the trail. " Je crois que 
go, mord" remarked my uncle. We allowed our artist 
guide to pass on, when, as I expected, I felt a twitch 
at my outer garment. I turned, and the witch eyes, 
distended with awe and amazement, were glaring 
into mine, while she said, in a hurried whisper, 

" Was n't it Romanes ? " 

" Avah" I replied, "mendui rakker sarja adovo 
lib. Butikumi ryeskro Us se denna (jrorgines" (Yes, 
we always talk that language. Much more genteel 
it is than English.) 

" Te adovo wavero rye ? " (And that other gentle- 
man ?) with a glance of suspicion at our artist 
friend. 

" Sar tacho " (He 's all right), remarked mine uncle, 
which I greatly fear meant, when correctly translated 
in a Christian sense, " He 's all wrong." But there 



264 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

is a natural sympathy and intelligence between Bo- 
hemians of every grade, all the world over, and I 
never knew a gypsy who did not understand an art- 
ist. One glance satisfied her that he was quite 
worthy of our society. 

"And where are you tannin kennd?" (tenting 
now), I inquired. 

" We are not tenting at this time of year ; we 're 
ktiiriii," i. ., house-ing, or home-ing. It is a good 
verb, and might be introduced into English. 

" And where is your house ? " 

" There, right by Mammy Sauerkraut's Row. Come 
in and sit down.'* 

I need not give the Romany which was spoken, 
but will simply translate. The house was like all the 
others. We passed through a close, dark passage, 
in which lay cam as and poles, a kettle and a sarshta, 
or the iron which is stuck into the ground, and by 
which a kettle hangs. The old-fashioned tripod, pop- 
ularly supposed to be used by gypsies, in all proba- 
bility never existed, since the Roms of India to-day 
use the xarshta, as mine uncle tells me he learned 
from a ci-devant Indian gypsy Dacoit, or wandering 
thief, who was one of his intimates in London. 

\Ye entered an inner room, and I was at once 
struck by its general indescribable unlikeness to or- 
dinary rooms. Architects declare that the type of 
the tent is to be distinctly found in all Chinese and 
Arab or Turkish architecture ; it is also as marked 
in a gypsy's house when he gets one. This room, 
which was evidently the common home of a large 
family, suggested, in its arrangement of furniture 
and the manner in which its occupants sat around 
the tent and the wagon. There was a bed, it is true, 



HOUSE GYPSIES IN PIllLAhLLI'llI A. 265 

but then- was a roll of .sail-doth, which evidently did 
duty for sleeping on at night, but which now, rolled 
up, acted the part described by Goldsmith : 

"A thin;. I double part to play, 

A bed by night, a sofa daring day." 

There was one chair and a saddle, a stove and a 
chest of drawers. I observed an engraving han 
up which I have several times seen in gypsy tents. 
It represents a very dark Italian youth. It is a fa- 
vorite also with Roman Catholics, because the 
has a consecrated medal. The gypsies, however, be- 
lieve that the boy stole the medal. The Catholics 
think the picture is that of a Roman boy, because 
the inscription says so ; and th<: gypsies call it a 
Romany, so that all are satisfied. There were some 
eight or nine children in the room, and among them 
more than one whose resemblance to the dark-skinned 
saint might have given color enough to the theory 

that he was 

" One whose blood 
Had rolled through gypsies ever since the flood." 

There was also a girl, of the pantherine type, and 
one damsel of about ten, who had light hair and 
fair complexion, but whose air was gypsy and whose 
youthful countenance suggested not the golden, but 
\he brazenest, age of life. Scarcely was I seated in 
the only chair, when this little maiden, after keenly 
scrutinizing my appearance, and apparently taking 
in the situation, came up to me and said, 

" Yer come here to have yer fortune told. I ; li 
tell it to yer for five cents." 

" Can titie pen dukkerin aja ? " (Can you tell fort- 
unes already ?) I inquired. And if that damsel had 
been lifted at that instant by the hair into the infi- 



266 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

nite glory of the seventh sphere, her countenance 
could not have manifested more amazement. She 
stood bouche beante, stock still staring, open-mouthed 
wide. I believe one might have put a brandy ball 
into it, or a "bull's eye," without her jaws closing 
on the dainty. It was a stare of twenty-four carats, 
and fourth proof. 

' 4 This here rye" remarked mine uncle, affably, in 
middle English, " is a hartist. He puts 'is heart into 
all he does; that 's why. He ain't Romanes, but he 
may be trusted. He 's come here, that wot he has, 
to draw this 'ere Mammy Sauerkraut's Row, because 
it 's interestin'. He ain't a tax-gatherer. We don't 
approve o' payin' taxes, none of hus. We practices 
heconomy, and dislike the po-lice. Who was Mammy 
Sauerkraut ? " 

" I know ! " cried the youthful would-be fortune- 
teller. " She was a witch." 

" Tool yer cliib ! " (Hold your tongue !) cried the 
parent. " Don't bother the lady with stories about 
chovihanis " (witches). 

" But that's just what I want to hear ! " I cried. 
" Go on, my little dear, about Mammy Sauerkraut, 
and you will get your five cents yet, if you only give 
me enough of it." 

" Well, then, Mammy Sauerkraut was a witch, and 
H, little black girl who lives next door told me so. 
And Mammy Sauerkraut used to change herself into 
a pig of nights, and that 's why they called her 
Sauerkraut. This was because they had pig ketchers 
going about in those times, and once they ketched 
a pig that belonged to her, and to be revenged on 
them she used to look like a pig, and they would 
follow her clear out of town way up the river, and 



HOUSE GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 2o7 

she 'd run, and they 'd ran after her, till by and by 
fire would begin to fly out of her bristles, and she 
jumped into the river and sizzed." 

This I thought worthy of the five cents. Then my 
uncle began to put questions in Romany. 

" Where is Anselo W. ? He that was staruben for 
a gry ?" (imprisoned for a horse). 

" Staruben apopli" (Imprisoned again.) 

" I am sorry for it, sister Nell. He used to play 
the fiddle well. I wot he was a canty chiel', and 
dearly lo'ed the whusky, oh ! " 

" Yes, he was too fond of that. How well he could 
play ! " 

" Yes," said my uncle, " he could. And I have 
sung to his fiddling when the tatto-pdni [hot water, 
{. e., spirits] boiled within us, and made us gay, oh, 
my golden sister ! That 's the way we Hungarian 
gypsy gentlemen always call the ladies of our people. 
I sang in Romany." 

" I 'd like to hear you sing now," remarked a dark, 
handsome young man, who had just made a myste- 
rious appearance out of the surrounding shadows. 

" It 's a Jcamaben gilli " (a love-song), said the rye ; 
" and it is beautiful, deep old Romanes, enough 
to make you cry." 

There was the long sound of a violin, clear as the 
note of a horn. I had not observed that the dark 
young man had found one to his hand, and, as he ac- 
companied, my uncle sang ; and I give the lyric as 
he afterwards gave it to me, both in Romany and 
English. As he frankly admitted, it was his own 
omposition. 



268 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 



KE TRINALL 

Tu shan miri pireni 

Me kamava tute, 
Kamlidiri, rinkeni, 

Kames mande buti ? 

Sa o miro kushto gry 
Taders miri wardi, 

Sa o boro buno rye 
Rikkers lesto stardi. 

Sa o bokro dre o char 

Hawala adovo, 
Sa i choramengeri 

Lels o ryas luvoo, 

Sa o sasto levinor 

Kairs ainandy matto, 
Sa o yag adre" o tan 

Kairs o gcero tatto, 

Sa i puri Romni chat 

Pens o kushto dukkrin, 
Sa i Gorgi dinneli, 

Patsers lakis pukkrin, 

Tute taders tiro rom, 
Sims o gry, o wardi, 

Tute chores o zi adrom 
Rikkers sa i stardi. 

Tute haws te chores m'ri at, 
Tutes dukkered buti 

Tu shan miro jivaben 
Me t'vel paller tute. 

Paller tute sarasa 

Pardel puv te pani, 
Trinali okrallisa! 

Miri chovihani ! 



HOUSE GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 26 



TO TRINALI 

Now thou art my darling girl, 
And I love thee dearly ; 

Oh, beloved and my fair, 
Lov'st thou me sincerely ? 

As my good old trusty horse 
Draws his load or bears it ; 

As a gallant cavalier 

Cocks his hat and wears it ; 

As a sheep devours the grass 
When the day is sunny ; 

As a thief who has the chance 
Takes away our money; 

As strong ale when taken down 
Makes the strongest tipsy ; 

As a fire within a tent 
Warms a shivering gypsy ; 

As a gypsy grandmother 
Tells a fortune neatly ; 

As the Gentile trusts in her, 
And is done completely, 

So you draw me here and there, 
Where you like you take me ; 

Or you sport me like a hat, 
What you will you make me. 

So you steal and gnaw my heart, 
For to that I 'm fated ! 

And by you, my gypsy Kate, 
I 'm intoxicated. 

And I own you are a witch, 

I am beaten hollow ; 
Where thou goest in this world 

I am bound to follow, 

Follow thee, where'er it be, 
Over land and water, 



270 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

Trinali, my gypsy queen ! 
Witch and witch's daughter ! 

" Well, that is deep Romanes," said the woman, 
admiringly. " It 's beautiful." 

"/should think it was," remarked the violinist. 
" Why, I did n't understand more than one half of it. 
But what I caught I understood." Which, I re- 
flected, as he uttered it, is perhaps exactly the case 
with far more than half the readers of all poetry. 
They run on in a semi-sensuous mental condition, 
soothed by cadence and lulled by rhyme, reading as 
they run for want of thought. Are there not poets of 
the present day who mean that you shall read them 
thus, and who cast their gold ornaments hollow, as 
jewelers do, lest they should be too heavy ? 

" My children," said Meister Karl, " I could go on 
all day with Romany songs ; and I can count up to a 
hundred in the black language. I know three words 
for a mouse, three for a monkey, and three for the 
shadow which falleth at noonday. And I know how 
to pen dukkeriri) lei dudiJcabin te chiv o manzin aprc 
latti." i 

"Well, the man who knows that is up to drab 
[medicine], and has n't much more to learn," said the 
young man. " When a rye 's a Rom he 's anywhere 
at home." 

"So kushto bah!" (Good luck!) I said, rising to 
go. " We will come again ! " 

" Yes, we will come again," said Meistor Karl. 
; ' Look for me with the roses at' the races, and tell me 
the horse to bet on. You'll find my patteran [a 

1 A brief resume of the most characteristic gypsy mode of obtain- 
ing property. 



HOUSE GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 271 

mark or sign to show which way a gypsy has trav- 
eled] at the next church-door, or may be on the pub- 
lic-house step. Child of the old Egyptians, mother 
of all the witches, sister of the stars, daughter of dark- 
ness, farewell ! " 

This bewildering speech was received with admir- 
ing awe, and we departed. I should have liked to 
hear the comments on us which passed that evening 
among the gypsy denizens of Mammy Sauerkraut's 
Row. 



V. 

A GYPSY LETTER. 

ALL the gypsies in the country are not upon the 
roads. Many of them live in houses, and that very 
respectably, nay, even aristocratically. Yea, and it 
may be, O reader, that thou hast met them and 
knowest them not, any more than thou knowest many 
other deep secrets of the hearts and lives of those who 
live around thee. Dark are the ways of the Romany, 
strange his paths, even when reclaimed from the tent 
and the van. It is, however, intelligible enough that 
the Rom converted to the true faith of broadcloth 
garments by Poole, or dresses by Worth, as well as 
to the holy gospel of daily baths and savon au violet, 
should say as little as possible of his origin. For the 
majority of the world being snobs, they continually 
insist that all blood unlike their own is base, and the 
chiy of the Jcalorat, knowing this,-sayeth naught, and 
ever carefully keeps the lid of silence on the pot of 
his birth. And as no being that ever was, is, or will 
be ever enjoyed holding a secret, playing a part, or 
otherwise entering into the deepest mystery of life 
which is to make a joke of it so thoroughly as a 
gypsy, it follows that the being respectable has to 
him a raciness and drollery and pungency and point 
which pusselh faith. It has often occurred to me, 
and the older I grow the more I find it true, that the 
^eal pleasure which bank presidents, moral politicians, 



A GYPSY LETTER. 273 

not a few clergymen, and most other highly repre- 
sentative good men take in having a high character 
is the exquisite secret consciousness of its being ut- 
terly undeserved. They love acting. Let no man 
say that the love of the drama is founded on the arti- 
ficial or sham. I have heard the Reverend Histrio- 
mastix war and batter this on the pulpit ; but the 
utterance per se was an actual, living lie. He was 
acting while he preached. Love or hunger is not 
more an innate passion than acting. The child in the 
nursery, the savage by the Nyanza or in Alaska, the 
multitude of great cities, all love to bemask and seem 
what they are not. Crush out carnivals and masked 
balls and theatres, and lo, you ! the disguising and 
acting and masking show themselves in the whole 
community. Mawworrn and Aminidab Sleek then 
play a role in every household, and every child be- 
comes a wretched little Roscius. Verily I say unto 
you, the fewer actors the more acting; the fewer the- 
atres the more stages, and the worse. Lay it to heart, 
study it deeply, you who believe that the stage is an 
open door to hell, for the chances are ninety and nine 
to one that if this be true you will end by consciously 
or unconsciously keeping a private little gate there- 
unto. Beloved, put this in thy pipe and fumigrfte it, 
that acting in some form is a human instinct which 
cannot be extinguished, which never has been and 
never will be ; and this being so, is it not better, with 
Dr. Bellows, to try to put it into proper form than to 
srush it ? Truly it has been proved that with this, as 
with a certain other unquenchable penchant of hu- 
xnanity, when you suppress a score of professionals 
you create a thousand zealous amateurs. There was 
never in this world a stage on which mere acting was 

18 



274 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

more skillfully carried out than in all England under 
Cromwell, or in Philadelphia under the Quakers. 
Eccentric dresses, artificial forms of language, sepa- 
rate and " peculiar " expressions of character unlike 
those of "the world," were all only giving a form to 
that craving for being odd and queer which forms the 
soul of masking and acting. Of course people who 
act all the time object to the stage. Le diable ne 
veut pas de miroir. 

The gypsy of society not always, but yet frequently, 
retains a keen interest in his wild ancestry. He keeps 
up the language ; it is a delightful secret ; he loves 
now and then to take a look at "the old thing." 
Closely allied to the converted sinners are the afici- 
onados, or the ladies and gentlemen born with uncon- 
querable Bohemian tastes, which may be accounted for 
by their having been themselves gypsies in preexist- 
ent lives. No one can explain how or why it is that 
the aficion comes upon them. It is mthem. I know 
a very learned man in England, a gentleman of high 
position, one whose name is familiar to my readers. 
He could never explain or understand why from early 
childhood he had felt himself drawn towards the wan- 
derers. When he was only ten years old he saved up 
all his little store of pence wherewith to pay a tinker 
to give him lessons in Romany, in which tongue he is 
now a Past Grand. I know ladies in England and in 
America, both of the blood and otherwise, who would 
give up a ball of the highest flight in society, to sit an 
hour in a gypsy tent, and on whom a whispered word 
of Romany acts like wild-lire. Great as my experience 
lias been I can really no more explain the intensity 
of this yearning, this raj>i>orf, than I can fly. My 
own fancy for gypsydom is faint and feeble compared 



A GYPSY LETTER. 275 

to what I have found in many others. It is in them 
like the love for opium, for music, for love itself, or 
for acting. I confess that there is to me a nameless 
charm in the strangely, softly flowing language, which 
gives a sweeter sound to every foreign word which it 
adopts, just as the melody of a forest stream is said 
to make more musical the songs of the birds who 
dwell beside it. Thus Wentzel becomes Wenselo and 
Anselo; Arthur, Artaros ; London, Lundra; Sylvester, 
Westaros. Such a phrase as " Dordi ! dovelo adoi?" 
(See ! what is that there ?) could not be surpassed 
for mere beauty of sound. 

It is apropos of living double lives, and playing 
parts, and the charm of stealing away unseen, like 
naughty children, to romp with the tabooed offspring 
of outlawed neighbors, that I write this, to introduce 
a letter from a lady, who has kindly permitted me to 
publish it. It tells its own story of two existences, 
two souls in one. I give it as it was written, first in 
Romany, and then in English : 

Febmunti 1st. 

MIRO KAMLO PAL, Tu tevel mishto ta shun te latcher- 
dum me akovo kurikus tacho Romany tan akai adre o gav. 
Buti kamaben lis sas ta dikk mori foki apopli ; buti kushti 
ta shun moro jib. Mi-duvel atch apa mande, si ne shomas 
pash naflo o Gorginess, vonk' akovo vias. O waver divvus 
Ba me viom fon a swell saleskro haben, dikdom me dui 

Romaui chia beshin alay apre a longo skamin adre 

Square. Kalor yakkor, kalor balyor, lullo diklas apre i 
Bherria, te lender trushnia aglal lender piria. Mi-duvel, 
shomas pash divio sftr kamaben ta dikav lender ! Avo ! 
kairdum o wardomengro hatch i graia te sheldom avri, 
" Come here ! " Yon penden te me sos a rani ta dukker, 
te vian sig adosta. Awer me saldom te pendom adre 
Romanis : " Sarishan miri dearis ! Tute don't jin maiidy's a 



276 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

Romany ! " Yon nastis patser lende kania nera yakkor. 
" Mi-duvel ! Sa se tiro nav? putchde yeck. "Miro nav 
Be Britannia Lee." Kenna-sig yon diktas te me sos tachi, 
*e penden amengi lender navia shanas M. te D. Lis sos 
duro pa lende ta jin sa a Roman! rilni astis jiv amen Gor- 
gios, te dikk sa Gorgious, awer te vel kushti Romani ajii, 
te tevel buoino lakis kaloratt. Buti.rakkerd&n apre mori 
foki, buti nevvi, buti savo sos rumado, te beeno, te puredo, 
savo sos vino fon o puro tern, te butikumi aja kekkeno sos 
rakkerben sa gudli. M. pende amengi, " Mandy don't jin 
how tute can jiv among dem Gorgies." Pukerdom anpali : 
" Mandy dont jiv, mandy mers kairin amen lender." Yon 
mangades mande ta well ta dikk a len, adre lendes ker apre 
o chumba kai atchena pa o wen. Pende M., " Av miri pen 
ta ha a bitti sar mendi. Tute jins the chais are only kerri 
arattt te Kurrkus." 

Sunday sala miri pen te me ghion adoi te latchedon o 
ker. O tan sos bitto, awer sa i Romanis pende, dikde boro 
adosta paller jivin adre o wardo. M. sos adoi te lakis roms 
dye, a kushti puri chai. A. sar shtor chavia. M. kerde 
haben sa mendui viom adoi. I puri dye sos mishto ta dikk 
mande, yoi kfimde ta jin sar trustal mande. Rakkerdeni 
buti aja, te yoi pende te yoi ne kekker latchde a Romani 
rani denna mande. Peudom me ke laki shan adre society 
kumi Romaui rania, awer i galderli Gorgios ne jinena lis. 

Yoi pende sa miri pen dikde simlo Lusha Cooper, te sig- 
gerde lakis kaloratt butider denna me. " Tute don't favor 
the Coopers, miri dearie ! Tute pens tiri dye rummerd a 
mush navvered Smith. Was adovo the Smith as lelled 
kellin te kurin booths pasher Lundra Bridge? Sos tute 
beeno adre* Anglati-rra ? " Pukkerdom me ke puri dye sar 
jinav me trustal miri kokeri te simensi. Tu jinsa shan kek 
Gorgies sa longi-bavoli apre genealogies, sa i puri Romani 
dyia. Vonka foki nastis chin lende adre lilia, rikkerena 
Uuule aduro adre k-ndros sherria. Que la main droit perd 
recueille la gauche. 

" Does tute jin any of the 's ? " peude M. " Tutc 



A GYPSY LETTER. 277 

dikks sim ta 's juva." " Ne kekker, yois too pauno," 
pens A. "It's chomani adre* the look of her," pende M. 

Dikkpali miro pal. Tu jinsa te sos i chi savo dudi- 

kabinde manush, navdo buti wongur. Vanka yt>i sos 

lino apre, o Beshomengro pende ta ker laki chiv apre a 
shuba sims Gorgios te adenne lelled laki adre a tan sar 
desh te dui gorgi chaia. astissa pen i chai savo chorde 

lestis lovvo. Vanka yoi vias adre o tan, yoi ghias sig keti 
laki, te pende : " JinFiva me laki talla lakis longi vangusti, 
te riukeni mui. Yoi sos stardi dui beshya, awer o Gorgio 
kekker las leski vongur pali." 

Savo-chirus mendi rakkerden o wilder pirido, te trin 
manushia vian adre. . . . Pali lenders sarishans, M. shelde 
avri : "Av ta misali, rikker yer skammins longo tute ! 
Mrs. Lee, why didn't tute bring yer rom ? " " Adenna me 

shorn kek rumadi." " Mi-duvel, Britannia ! " pende . 

" M. pende amengy te tu sos rumado." " M. didn't dukker 
tacho vonka yoi dukkerd adovo. Yois a dinneli," pendom 
me. Te adenne sar mendi saden atut M. Haben sos kushto, 
Horn a kani, ballovas te puvengros, te kushto curro levina. 
Liom mendi kushto paiass dre moro puro Romany dromus. 
Rinkenodiro sos, kerde mande pash ta ruv, shomas sa kush- 
to-bakno ta atch yecker apopli men mori foki. Sos " Brit- 
annia ! " akai, te " Britannia ! " doi, te sar sa adre o puro 
cheirus, vonka chavi shomas. Ne patserava me ta Dante 
chinde : 

" Nessun maggior dolore 
Che ricordarsi del tempi felici." 

Talla me shomas kushto-bakno ta pen apre o puro chirus. 
Sar lende piden miro kamaben Romaneskaes, sar gudlo ; 
talla PI. Yov pende nastis ker lis, pa yuv kenna lias tabuti. 
Kushto dikin Romnichal yuv. Tu tevel jin lesti sarakai pa 
Roman i, yuv se sa kalo. Te avec fair indefinnissable du 
vrai Bohemien. Yuv patserde me ta piav miro sastopen 
wavescro chirus. Kana shomas pa misali, geero vias keti 
\an ; dukkeriben kamde yov. Hunali sos i puri dye te 



278 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

pendes amergi, " Beng lei o puro jukel for wellin vanka 
inendi shorn hain, te kenna tu slum akai, miri Britannia 
Yov ne tevel lei kek kushto bak. Mandy'll pen leste a 
wafedo dukkerin." Adoi A. putcherde mengy, " Does tute 
dukker or sfi does tute ker." " Miri pen, mandy'll pen tute 
tacho. Mandy dukkers te dudikabins te kers buti covvas. 
Shorn a tachi Romani chovihani." " Tacho ! tacho ! " saden 
butider. Miri pen te me rikkerdem a boro matto-morricley 
pa i chavis. Yon beshden alay apre o purj, hais lis. Rinkeno 
picture sas, pendom dikkav mande te miri penia te pralia 
kenna shomas bitti. Latcherdom me a tani kali chavi of 
panj besh chorin levina avrl miro curro. Dikde, sar lakis 
bori kali yakka te kali balia simno tikno Bacchante, sa yoi 
prasterde adrom. 

Pendom parako pa rnoro kushto-bfikeno chirus " kushto 
bak " te " kushto divvus." Mendi diom moro tachopen ta 
well apopli, te kan viom kerri. Patserava dikk tute akai 
talla o prasterin o ye graia. Kushto bak te kushto ratti. 

Sarja tiro pen, BRITANNIA LEE. 

TRANSLATION. 

February 1st. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, You will be glad to learn that I, 
within the wi-ck, found a real Romany family (place) here 
in this town. Charming it was to find our folk again ; 
pleasant it was to listen to our tongue. Tint Lord be on 
uie ! but I was half sick of Gentiles and their ways till this 
occurred. The other day, as I was muming from a highly 
aristocratic breakfast, where we had winter strawberries 
with the creme de la crcme, I saw two gypsy women sitting 
on a bench in Square. Black eyes, black hair, red ker- 
chiefs on therr heads', their baskets on the ground before 
their feet. Dear Lord ! but I was half wild with delight at 
seeing them. Aye, I made the eoaehman stop the horses, 
and ei-:ed aloud, "Come 1 They thought I \\ 

lady to t'ortunu-tell, and came quickly. Hut I laughed, and 
raid in Romany, " How are you, my dears ? You don't 



A GYPSY LETTER. 279 

know that I am a gypsy." They could not trust their very 
ears or eyes ! At length one said, " My God ! what is 
your name?" "My name's Britannia Lee," and, at a 
glance, they saw that I was to be trusted, and a Romany. 
Their names, they said, were M. and D. It was hard (far) 
for them to understand how a Romany lady could live 
among Gentiles, and look so Gorgious, and yet be a true 
gypsy withal, and proud of her dark blood. Much they 
talked about our people ; much news I heard, much as to 
who was married and born and buried, who was come from 
the old country, and much more. Oh, never was such news 
so sweet to me ! M. said, " I don't know how you can 
live among the Gentiles." I answered, li I don't live ; I die, 
living in their houses with them." They begged me then 
to come and see them in their home, upon the hill, where 
they are wintering. M. said, " Come, my sister, and eat 
a little with us. You know that the women are only at 
home at night and on Sunday." 

Sunday morning, sister and I went there, and found the 
house. It was a little place, but, as they said, after the life 
in wagons it seemed large. M. was there, and her hus- 
band's mother, a nice old woman ; also A., with four chil- 
dren. M. was cooking as we entered. The old mother 
was glad to see us ; she wished to know all about us. All 
talked, indeed, and that quite rapidly, and she said that I 
was the first Romany lady l she had ever seen. I said to 
her that in society are many gypsy ladies to be found, but 
that the wretched Gentiles do not know it. 

She said that my sister looked like Lusha Cooper, and 
showed her dark blood more than I do. " You don't favor 
the Coopers, my dearie. You say your mother married a 
Smith. Was that the Smith who kept a dancing and box- 

1 Lady, in gypsy rani. The process of degradation is curiously 
marked in this language. Rani (mwnee), in Hindi, is a queen. Rye, 
or me, a gentleman, in its native land, is applicable to a nobleman, 
while rashai, a clergyman, even of the smallest dissenting type, rises 
in the original rishi to a saint of the highest order. 



280 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

ing place near London Bridge ? Were you born in Eng- 
land ? " I told the old mother all I knew about myself 
and my relations. You know that no Gorgios are so long- 
winded on genealogies as old mothers in Rom. When peo- 
ple don't write them down in their family Bibles, they carry 
them, extended, in their heads. Que la main droit perd 
recueille la gauche. 

" Do you know any of the 's ? " said M. " You look 

like 's wife." " No ; she 's too pale," said A. " It 's 

something in the look of her," said M. 

Reflect, my brother. You know that was the 

woman who " cleaned out " a man named of a very 

large sum 1 by " dukkeripcn " and " dudikabin." " When 
she was arrested, the justice made her dress like any Gorgio, 
and placed her among twelve Gentile women. The man 
who had been robbed was to point out who among them 
had stolen his money. When she came into the room, he 
went at once to her, and said, ' I know her by her long 
skinny fingers and handsome face.' She was imprisoned 
for two years, but the Gorgio never recovered his money." 

What time we reasoned thus, the door undid, and three 
men entered. After their greetings, M. cried, " Come to 
table ; bring your chairs with you ! " " Mrs. Lee, why 
didn't you bring your husband?" "Because I am not 
married." "Lord! Britannia! Why, M. told me that 
you were." " Ah, M. did n't fortune right when she fort- 
uned that. She 's a fool," quoth I. And then \vc all 
laughed like children. The food was good : chickens and 
ham and fried potatoes, with a glass of sound ale. We 
were gay as flies in summer, in the real old Romany way. 
'T was "Britannia" here, "Britannia" there, as in the 
merry days when we were young. Little do I believe in 
Dante's words, 



1 This was the very same affair nnd the. same trypsies described 
and mentioned on page 383 of In (',I/J>KIJ Tents, by Francis Iliudcs 
Groome, Edinburgh, 1880. I am well acquainted with them. 



A GYPSY LETTER. 281 

" Nesstm maggior dolore, 
Che ricordarsi dei tempi felici." 

" There is no greater grief 
Than to remember by-gone happy days." 

For it is always happiness to me to think of good old 
times when I was glad. All drank my health, Romanes- 
kaes, together, with a shout, all save H., who said he had 
already had too much. Good-looking gypsy, that ! You 'd 
know him anywhere for Romany, he is so dark, avec lair 
indefinissable du vrai Bohemien. He promised to drink my 
health another time. 

As we sat, a gentleman came in below, wishing to have his 
fortune told. I remember to have read that the Pythoness 
of Delphian oracle prepared herself for dukkerin, or presag- 
ing, by taking a few drops of cherry-laurel water. (I have 
had it prescribed for my eyes as ^T aq. laur. cerasi.jiat lotto, 
possibly to enable me to see into the future.) Perhaps 
it was the cherry-brandy beloved of British matrons and 
Brighton school-girls, taken at Mutton's. Mais revenons a 
nos moutons. The old mother had taken, not cherry-laurel 
water, nor even cherry -brandy, but joly good ale, and olde, 
which, far from fitting her to reveal the darksome lore of 
futurity, had rendered her loath to leave the festive board 
of the present. Wrathful was the sybil, furious as the 
Vala when waked by Odin, angry as Thor when he missed 
his hammer, to miss her merriment. " May the devil take 
the old dog for coming when we are eating, and when thou 
art here, my Britannia ! Little good fortune will he hear 
this day. Evil shall be the best I '11 promise him." Thus 
spake the sorceress, and out she went to keep her word. 
Truly it was a splendid picture this of " The Enraged 
Witch," as painted by Hexenmeister von Teufel, of Hol- 
lenstadt, her viper eyes flashing infernal light and most 
unchristian fire, shaking les noirs serpents de ses cheveux., 
^s she went forth. I know how, in an instant, her face was 
beautiful with welcome, smiling like a Neapolitan at a cent ; 



282 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

but the poor believer caught it hot, all the same, and had 
a sleepless night over his future fate. I wonder if the 
Pythoness of old, when summoned from a petit souper, or a 
holy prophet called out of bed of a cold night, to decide by 
royal command on the fate of Israel, ever " took it out " on 
the untimely king by promising him a liveh r , unhappy time 
of it. Truly it is fine to be behind the scenes and see how 
they work the oracle. For the gentleman who came to 
consult my witch was a man of might in the secrets of state, 
and one whom I have met in high society. And, oh ! if he 
had known who it was that was up-stairs, laughing at him 
for a fool ! 

"While she was forth, A. asked me, " Do you tell fortunes, 
or what ? " " My sister," I replied, " I '11 tell thee the 
truth. I do tell fortunes. I keep a house for the pur- 
chase of stolen goods. I am largely engaged in making 
counterfeit money and all kinds of forgery. I am inter- 
ested in burglary. I lie, swear, cheat, and steal, and get 
drunk on Sunday. And I do many other things. I am 
a real Romany witch." This little confession of faith 
brought down the house. " Bravo ! bravo ! " they cried, 
laughing. 

Sister and I had brought a great tipsy-cake for the chil- 
dren, and they were all sitting under a table, eating it. It 
was a pretty picture. I thought I saw in it myself and all 
my sisters and brothers as we were once. Just such little 
gypsies and duckling Romany s ! And now ! And then ! 
What a comedy some lives are, yea, such lives as mine! 
And now it is you who are behind the scenes ; anon, I 
shall change with you. Va Pierre, vient Pierette. Then 
I surprised a little brown maiden imp of five summers 
stealing my beer, and as she was caught in the act, and 
tore away shrieking with laughter, she looked, with her 
great black eyes and flowing jetty curling locks, like a per- 
fect little Bacchante. 

Then we said, " Thank you for the happy time ! " " Good 



A GYPSY LETTER. 283 

luck ! " and " Good day ! " giving our promises to come 
again. So we went home all well. I hope to see you at 
the races here. Good luck and good-night also to you. 
Always ycur friend, BRITANNIA LEE 

I have somewhat abbreviated the Romany text of 
this letter, and Miss Lee herself has somewhat pol- 
ished and enlarged the translation, which is strictly 
fit and proper, she being a very different person in 
English from what she is in gypsy, as are most of her 
kind. This letter may be, to many, a strange lesson, 
a quaint essay, a social problem, a fable, an epigram, 
or a frolic, just as they choose to take it. To me 
it is a poem. Thou, my friend, canst easily under- 
stand why all that is wild and strange, out-of-doors, 
far away by night, is worthy of being Tennysoned or 
Whitmanned. If there be given unto thee stupen- 
dous blasted trees, looking in the moonlight like the 
pillars of a vast and ghostly temple ; the fall of cat- 
aracts down awful rocks; the wind wailing in won- 
drous language or whistling Indian melody all night 
on heath, rocks, and hills, over ancient graves and 
through lonely caves, bearing with it the hoot of 
the night-owl; while over all the stars look down 
in eternal mystery, like eyes reading the great riddle 
of the nip;lit which thou knowest not, this is to thee 
like Ariel's song. To me and to us there are men 
and women who are in life as the wild river and the 
night-owl, as the blasted tree and the wind over an- 
cient graves. No man is educated until he has arrived 
at that state of thought when a picture is quite the 
same as a book, an old gray-beard jug as a manu 
script, men, women, and children as libraries. It 
was but yester morn that I read a cuneif c rm inscrip 



284 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

tion printed by doves' feet in the snow, finding a 
meaning where in by-gone years I should have seen 
only a quaint resemblance. For in this by the orni- 
thomanteia known of old to the Chaldean sages I 
saw that it was neither from arrow-heads or wedges 
which gave the letters to the old Assyrians. When 
thou art at this point, then Nature is equal in all 
her types, and the city, as the forest, full of endless 
beauty and piquancy, in scecula sceculorum. 

I had written the foregoing, and had enveloped 
and directed it to be mailed, when I met in a lady- 
book entitled " Magyarland " with the following 
passages : 

" The gypsy girl in this family was a pretty young 
woman, with masses of raven hair and a clear skin, 
but, notwithstanding her neat dress and civilized sur- 
roundings, we recognized her immediately. It is, in 
truth, not until one sees the Romany translated to 
an entirely new form of existence, and under circum- 
stances inconsistent with their ordinary lives, that one 
realizes how completely different they are from the 
rest of mankind in form and feature. Instead of 'dis- 
guising, the garb of civilization only enhances the 
type, and renders it the more apparent. No matter 
what dress they may assume, no matter what may be 
their calling, no matter whether they are dwellers in 
tents or houses, it is impossible for gypsies to disguise 
their origin. Taken from their customary surround- 
ings, they become at once an anomaly and an anach- 
ronism, and present such an instance of the absurd- 
ity of attempting to invert the order of nature that 
we feel more than ever how utterly different they are 
from the human race ; that there is a key to their 
strange life which we do not possess, a secret free- 



A GYPSY LETTER. 285 

masonry that renders them more isolated than the 
veriest savages dwelling in the African wilds, and 
a hidden mystery hanging over them and their origin 
that we shall never comprehend. They are indeed a 
people so entirely separate and distinct that, in what- 
ever clime or quarter of the globe they may be met 
with, they are instantly recognized; for with them 
forty centuries of association with civilized races have 
not succeeded in obliterating one single sign." 

" Alas ! " cried the princess ; " I can never, never 
find the door of the enchanted cavern, nor enter the 
golden cavern, nor solve its wonderful mystery. It 
has been closed for thousands of years, and it will re- 
main closed forever." 

"What flowers are those which thou boldest?" 
asked the hermit. 

" Only primroses or Mary's-keys, 1 and tulips," re- 
plied the princess. 

" Touch the rock with them," said the hermit, " and 
the door will open." 

The lady writer of " Magyarland " held in her hand 
all the while, and knew it not, a beautiful primrose, 
which might have opened for her the mysterious 
Romany cavern. On a Danube steamboat she saw 
a little blind boy sitting all day all alone : only a little 
Slavonian peasant boy, " an odd, quaint little speci- 
men of humanity, with loose brown garments, cut pre- 
cisely like those of a grown-up man, and his bits of 
feet in little raw-hide moccasins." However, with a 

i Primulaveris : in German Schliissel blume, that is, key flowers ; also 
Mary's-keys and keys of heaven. Both the primrose and tulip are 
believed in South Germany to be an Open Sesame to hidden treasure. 



286 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

tender, gentle heart she began to pet the little waif. 
And the captain told her what the boy was. " He is 
a guslar, or minstrel, as they call them in Croatia. 
The Yougo-Slavs dedicate all male children who are 
born blind, from infancy, to the Muses. As soon as 
they are old enough to handle anything, a small man- 
dolin is given them, which they are taught to play ; 
after which they are taken every day into the woods, 
where they are left till evening to commune in their 
little hearts with nature. In due time they become 
poets, or at any rate rhapsodists, singing of the things 
they never saw, and when grown up are sent forth to 
earn their livelihood, like the troubadours of old, by 
singing from place to place, and asking alms by the 
wayside. 

" It is not difficult for a Slav to become a poet ; he 
takes in poetic sentiment as a river does water from 
its source. The first sounds he is conscious of are the 
words of his mother singing to him as she rocks his 
cradle. Then, as she watches the dawning of intelli- 
gence in his infant face, her mother language is that 
of poetry, which she improvises at the moment, and 
though he never saw the flowers nor the snow-capped 
mountains, nor the flowing streams and rivers, he de- 
scribes them out of his inner consciousness, and the 
influence which the varied sounds of nature have upon 
his mind." 

Rock and river and greenwood tree, sweet-spiced 
spring flower, rustling grass, and bird-singing nature 
and freedom, this is the secret of the poets' song 
and of the Romany, and there is no other mystery in 
either. He who sleeps on graves rises mad or a poet 
all who lie on the earth, which is the grave and cra- 
dle of nature, and who live al fresco , understand gyp 



A GYPSY LETTER. 287 

sies as well as my lady Britannia Lee. Nay, when 
some natures take to the Romany they become like 
the Norman knights of the Pale, who were more Pad- 
dyfied than the Paddies themselves. These become 
leaders among the gypsies, who recognize the fact 
that one renegade is more zealous than ten Turks. 
As for the " mystery " of the history of the gypsies, 
it is time, sweet friends, that 't were ended. When 
we know that there is to-day, in India, a sect and set 
of Vauriens, who are there considered Gipsissimee, 
and who call themselves, with their wives and lan- 
guage and being, Rom, Romni, and Romnipana, even 
as they do in England ; and when we know, more- 
over, that their faces proclaim them to be Indian, and 
that they have been a wandering caste since the dawn 
of Hindu history, we have, I trow, little more to 
seek. As for the rest, you may read it in the great 
book of Out-of Doors, capitulo nullo folio nigro, or 
wherever you choose to open it, written as distinctly, 
plainly, and sweetly as the imprint of a school-boy's 
knife and fork on a mince-pie, or in the uprolled 
rapture of the eyes of Britannia when she inhaleth 
the perfume of a fresh bunch of Florentine violets. 
lie missa est. 



GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 



NOON in Cairo. 

A silent old court-yard, half sun and half shadow 
in which quaintly graceful, strangely curving columns 
seem to have taken from long companionship with 
trees something of their inner life, while the palms, 
their neighbors, from long in-door existence, look as 
if -they had in turn acquired household or animal 
instincts, if not human sympathies. And as the 
younger the race the more it seeks for poets and ora- 
tors to express in thought what it only feels, so these 
dumb pillars and plants found their poet and orator 
in the fountain which sang or spoke for them 
strangely and sweetly all night and day, uttering for 
them not only their waking thoughts, but their 
dreams. It gave a voice, too, to the ancient Persian 
tiles and the Cufic inscriptions which had seen the 
caliphs, and it told endless stories of Zobeide and 
Mesrour and Haroun al Raschid. 

Beyond the door which, when opened, gave this 
sight was a dark ancient archway twenty yards long, 
which opened on the glaring, dusty street, where cam- 
els with their drivers and screaming sais, or carriage- 
runners and donkey-boys and crying venders, kept up 
the wonted Oriental din. But just within the arch- 
way, in its duskiest corner, there sat all day a living 
picture, a dark and handsome woman, apparently 



GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 289 

thirty years old, who was unveiled. She had before 
her a cloth and a few shells ; sometimes an Egyptian 
of the lower class stopped, and there would be a grave 
consultation, and the shells would be thrown, and 
then further solemn conference and a payment of 
money and a departure. And it was world-old Egy^i 
tian, or Chaldean, as to custom, for the woman was a 
Rhagarin, or gypsy, and she was one of the diviners 
who sit by the wayside, casting shells for auspices, 
even as shells and arrows were cast of old, to be cursed 
by Israel. 

It is not remarkable that among the myriad man- 
teias of olden days there should have been one by 
shells. The sound of the sea as heard in the nautilus 
or conch, when 

" It remembers its august abode 
And murmurs as the ocean murmurs there," 

is very strange to children, and I can remember 
how in childhood I listened with perfect faith to the 
distant roaring, and marveled at the mystery of the 
ocean song being thus forever kept alive, inland. 
Shells seem so much like work of human hands, and 
are often so marked as with letters, that it is not 
strange that faith soon found the supernatural in 
them. The magic shell of all others is the cowrie. 
Why the Roman ladies called it porcella, or little pig, 
because it has a pig's back, is the objective explana- 
tion of its name, and how from its gloss that name, 
or porcellana, was transferred to porcelain, is in 
books. But there is another side to the shell, and 
another or esoteric meaning to " piggy*" which was 
also known to the dames du temps jadis, to Archi- 
piada and Thais, quifut la belle Romaine, and this 
inner meaning makes of it a type of birth or creation. 

19 



290 GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 

Now all that symbolizes fertility, birth, pleasure, 
warmth, light, and love is opposed to barrenness, cold, 
death, and evil ; whence it follows that the very 
sight of a shell, and especially of a cowrie* frightens 
away the devils as well as a horse-shoe, which by the 
way has alsp its cryptic meaning. Hence it was se- 
lected to cast for luck, a world-old custom, which still 
lingers in the game of props ; and for the same reason 
it is hung on donkeys, the devil being still scared 
away by the sight of a cowrie, even as he was scared 
away of old by its prototype, as told by Rabelais. 

As the sibyls sat in caves, so the sorceress sat in 
the dark archway, immovable when not sought, mys- 
terious as are all her kind, and something to wonder 
at. It was after passing her, and feeling by quick in- 
tuition what she was, that the court-yard became a 
fairy -land, and the fountain its poet, and the palm- 
trees Tamar maids. There are people who believe 
there is no mystery, that an analysis of tin 1 gypsy 
sorceress would have shown an ignorant outcast ; but 
while nature gives chiaro - oscuro and beauty, and 
while God is the Unknown, I believe that the more 
light there is cast by science the more stupendous will 
be the new abysses of darkness revealed. These nat- 
ures must be taken with the life in them, not dead, 
and their life is mystery. The Hungarian gypsy lives 
in an intense mystery, yes, in true magic in his sing- 
ing. You may say that he cannot, like Orpheus, 
move rocks or tame beasts with his music. If he 
could he could do no more than astonish and move 
us, and he does that now, and the ivliy is as deep a 
mystery as that would be. 

So far is it from being only a degrading supersti- 
tion in those who believe that mortals like themselves 



GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 291 

can predict the future, that it seems, on the contrary, 
ennobling. It is precisely because man feels a mys- 
tery within himself that he admits it may be higher iu 
others ; if spirits whisper to him in dreams and airy 
passages of trembling light, or in the music never 
heard but ever felt below, what may not be revealed 
to others ? You may tell me if you will that proph- 
ecies are all rubbish and magic a lie, and it may be so, 
nay, is so, but the awful mystery of the Unknown 
without a name and the yearning to penetrate it is, 
and is all the more, because I have found all proph- 
ecies and jugglings and thaumaturgy fail to bridge 
over the abyss. It is since I have read with love 
and faith the evolutionists and physiologists of the 
most advanced type that the Unknown has become 
to me most wonderful, and that I have seen the light 
which never shone on sea or land as I never saw it 
before. And therefore to me the gypsy and all the 
races who live in freedom and near to nature are 
more poetic than ever. For which reason, after the 
laws of acoustics have fully explained to me why the 
nautilus sounds like a far off-ocean dirge, the unutter- 
able longing to know more seizes upon me, 

" Till my heart is full of longing 

For the secret of the sea, 
And the heart of the great ocean 
Sends a thrilling pulse through me." 

That gypsy fortune-teller, sitting in the shadow, is, 
moreover, interesting as a living manifestation of a 
dead past. As in one of her own shells when petri- 
fied we should have the ancient form without its 
color, all the old elements being displaced by new 
ones, so we have~the old magic shape, though every 
atom in it is different ; the same, yet not the same 



292 GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 

Life in the future, and the divination thereof, was a 
stupendous, ever-present reality to the ancient Egyp- 
tian, and the sole inspiration of humanity when it 
produced few but tremendous results. It is when we 
see it in such living forms that it is most interest- 
ing. As in Western wilds we can tell exactly by the 
outline of the forests where the borders of ancient 
inland seas once ran, so in the great greenwood of 
history we can trace by the richness or absence of 
foliage and flower the vanished landmarks of poetry, 
or perceive where the enchantment whose charm has 
now flown like the snow of the foregone year once 
reigned in beauty. So a line of lilies has shown me 
where the sea-foam once fell, and pine-trees sang of 
masts preceding them. 

" I sometimes think that never blows so red 
The rose as where some buried Ctcsar bled ; 
That every hyacinth the garden wears 
Dropt in her lap from some once lovely head." 1 

The memory of that court-yard reminds me that I 
possess two Persian tiles, each with a story. There is 
a house in Cairo which is said to be more or less 
contemporary with the prophet, and it is inhabited by 
an old white-bearded emir, more or less a descend- 
ant of the prophet. This old gentleman once gave 
as a precious souvenir to an American lady two of 
the beautiful old tiles from his house, whereof I had 
one. In the eyes of a Muslim there is a degree of 
sanctity attached to this tile, as one on which the 
eyes of the prophet may have rested, or at least 
the eyes of those who were nearer to him than we 
are. Long after I returned from Cairo I wrote and 

1 Omar Khayya'm, Rubaiyat. 



GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 293 

published a fairy-book called Johnnykin, 1 in which 
occurred the following lines : 

Trust not the Ghoul, love, 

Heed riot his smile ; 
Out of the Mosque, love, 

He stole the tile. 

One day my friend the Palmer from over the sea 
came to me with a present. It was a beautiful Per- 
sian tile. 

" Where did you get it ? " I asked. 

" I stole it out of a mosque in Syria." 

" Did you ever read my Johnnykin ? " 

" Of course not." 

" I know you never did." Here I repeated the verse. 
" But you remember what the Persian poet says: 

" ' And never since the vine-clad earth was young 
Was some great crime committed on the earth, 
But that some poet prophesied the deed.' " 

" True, and also what the great Tsigane poet 

sang : 

" ' O manush te lela sossi choredd, 
Wafodiro se te choramengr6.' 

" He who takes the stolen ring, 
Is worse than he who stole the thing." 

" And it would have been better for you, while you 
were dukJcerin or prophesying, to have prophesied 
about something more valuable than a tile." 

And so it came to pass that the two Persian tiles, 
one given by a descendant of the Prophet, and the 
other the subject of a prophecy, rest in my cabinet 
side by side. 

In Egypt, as in Austria, or Syria, or Persia, or In- 
dia, the gypsies are the popular musicians. I had long 
1 Johnnykin and the Goblins. London : Macmillan. 



294 GYPSIES IN mi': r.AST. 



!;< fur lli< 1 derivation of the word Imiijn^ and one 
day I found tliiil, (lie Oriental died a 

by flint, name. Walking one day with the I 
in ( 'ambndLM', we suw in ;i window :i very linn Hindu 
lute, 01- in fact ji real banjo made of :i o-ourd. \Ve 
in<|uired, and found that it belonged to ;i mutual 
friend, Mr. Charles I> rook field, one of the best fel- 
lows li\inj, and who, on boiiiL, r forthwith " requi- 
sitioned" |y the unanimous voice, of all who sym- 
pathised with me in my need, sent, me the ins! rumcnt. 
u llo did not think it ri<dit," ho said, "to keep it, 
when Philology \v!int,e.d it. If it had been any other 
]):irl.y,- hut he always had a part ieulnr re. p <! and 
awe of her." I do not .assort that this discovery 
settles (lie origin of the word banjo, \)\\l the, coinci- 
dence is, t<> say the least, remarkable. 

I saw many gypsies in Ki;-ypt, hut, learned liltlo 
from them. What, I found I stated in a work called 
the " K-yp(ian Sketch Hook." It was to this effect: 
My first information was derived from the late Khe- 
dive Ismael, who during an interview with mo said, 
" There are in K^ypt many people known as Hh:t#mn, 
or (Jha^arin, whoai'e prohably the same as the 
BIGS of Europe. They are wanderers, who live in 
tents, and are regarded with contempt, even by the 
peasantry. Their women tell fortunes, tattoo, and 
sell small wares; the, men work in iron. They are. 
nil adroit thieves, and noted as such. The men may 
sometimes he. seen ^oin^ round the country with mon- 
keys. In fact-, they appear to be in all respects tho 
name p-ople ;t s the gypsies of Kur.-j 

I habitually employed, while in Cairo, the same 
donkey-driver, an intelligent, and well-behaved nun: 
named Mahomet, who spoke English fairly. On ask 



f, 'l 1 

ing him if he could show me ar. -/lied 

tliat there was a fair or 

mlac. where I would be sure ' with 

women of the tribe. 'J .he said, seldom 

med into the city, because they were sui :uch 

insult and ill-treatment from the co 

On the day appointed I rode to Boulac. The mar- 
ket was very interesting, I saw no Bur 
Frangi there, except my companion, Baron de Cosson, 
who afterwards traveled far into the White Nile coun- 
try, and who had with his brother Edward many re- 
markable adventures in Abyssinia, which were well 
recorded by the latter in a book. All around were 
thousands of blue-skirted and red-tarbouched or white- 
turbaned Egyptians, buying or selling, or else amus- 
ing themselves, but with an excess of outcry and 
hallo which indicates their grown child character. 
There were dealers in donkeys and horses roaring 
aloud, "He is for ten napoleons! Had I asked twenty 
would have gladly given me fifteen ! " ** O true 
believers, here is a Syrian steed which will give 
renown to the purchaser!" Strolling loosely about 
were dealers in sugar-cane and pea-nuts, which are 
called gooba in Africa as in America, pipe peddlers 
and venders of rosaries, jugglers and minstrels. At 
last we came to a middle-aged woman seated on the 
ground behind a basket containing beads, glass arm- 
lets, and such trinkets. She was dressed like any 
Arab-woman of the lower class, but was not veiled, 
*nd on her chin blue lines were tattooed. Her feat- 
.ires and expression were, however, gypsy, and not 
Egyptian. And as she sat there quietly I wondered 
bow a woman could feel in her heart who was looked 
down upon with infinite scorn by an Egyptian, who 



296 GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 

might justly be looked down on in his turn with sub- 
lime contempt by an average American Methodist 
colored whitewasher who " took de ' Ledger.' " Yet 
there was in the woman the quiet expression which 
associates itself with respectability, and it is worth 
remarking that whenever a race is greatly looked 
down on by another from the stand-point of mere 
color, as in America, or mere religion, as in Mahom- 
etan lands, it always contains proportionally a larger 
number of decent people than are to be found among 
those who immediately oppress it. An average Chi- 
nese is as a human being far superior to a hoodlum, 
and a man of color to the white man who cannot 
speak of him or to him except as a " naygur " or a 
" nigger." It is when a man realizes that he is superior 
in nothing else save race, color, religion, family, in- 
herited fortune, and their contingent advantages that 
he develops most readily into the prig and snob. 

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



G.YPSIES IN THE EAST. 297 

This at least was satisfactory. All over Southern 
Germany and in Norway the gypsies are called Tar- 
taren, and though the word means Tartars, and is 
misapplied, it indicates the race. The woman seemed 
to be much gratified at the interest I manifested in 
her people. I gave her a double piaster, and asked 
for its value in blue glass armlets. She gave me four, 
and as I turned to depart called me back, and with a 
good-natured smile handed me four more as a present. 
This generosity was very gypsy-like, and very unlike 
the habitual meanness of the ordinary Egyptian. 

After this Mahomet took me to a number of Rha- 
garin. They all resembled the one whom I had seen, 
and all were sellers of small articles and fortune-tell- 
ers. They all differed slightly from common Egyp- 
tians in appearance, and were more unlike them in 
not being importunate for money, nor disagreeable in 
their manners. But though they were as certainly 
gypsies as old Charlotte Cooper herself, none of them, 
could speak Romany. I used to amuse myself by 
imagining what some of my English gypsy friends 
would have done if turned loose in Cairo among their 
cousins. How naturally old Charlotte would have 
waylaid and "dukkered" and amazed the English 
ladies in the Muskee, and how easily that reprobate 
old amiable cosmopolite, the Windsor Frog, would 
have mingled with the motley mob of donkey-boys 
and tourists before Shepherd's Hotel, and appointed 
himself an attache to their excursions to the Pyra- 
mids, and drunk their pale ale or anything else to 
their healths, and then at the end of the day have 
Claimed a wage for his politeness! And how well the 
climate would have agreed with them, and how they 
would have agreed that it was of all lands the best 
for tannin, or tentine out, in the world ! 



298 GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 

The gypsiest-looking gypsy in Cairo, with whom 
I became somewhat familiar, was a boy of sixteen, a 
snake-eharnier ; a dark and even handsome youth, 
but with eyes of such wild wickedness that no one 
who had ever seen him excited could hope that he 
would ever become as other human beings. I believe 
that he had come, as do all of his calling, from a 
snake-catching line of ancestors, and that he had taken 
in from them, as did Elsie Vernier, the serpent nature. 
They had gone snaking, generation after generation, 
from the days of the serpent worship of old, it may 
be back to the old Serpent himself ; and this tawny, 
sinuous, active thing of evil, this boy, without the 
least sense of sympathy for any pain, who devoured a 
cobra alive with as much indifference as he had just 
shown in petting it, was the result. He was a human 
snake. I had long before reading the wonderfully 
original work of Doctor Holmes reflected deeply on 
the moral and immoral influences which serpent wor- 
ship of old, in Syria and other lands, must have had 
upon its followers. But Elsie Venner sets forth the 
serpent nature as benumbed or suspended by cold 
New England winters and New England religions, 
moral and social influences; the Ophites of old and 
the Cairene gypsy showed the boy as warmed to life in 
lands whose winters are as burning summers. Elsie 
Venner is not sensual, and sensuality is the leading 
trait of the human-serpent nature. Herein lies an 
error, just as a sculptor would err who should present 
Lady Godiva as fully draped, or Sappho merely as a 
sweet singer of Lesbos, or Antinous only as a fine 
young man. He who would harrow hell and rake 
out the, devil, and then exhibit to us an ordinary sin- 
ner, or an opera louffe " Mefistofele," as the result, 



GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 299 

reminds one of the seven Suabians who went to hunt 
a monster, " a Ungeheuer" and returned with a 
hare. Elsie Vernier is not a hare ; she is a wonderful 
creation; but she is a winter-snake. I confess that I 
have no patience, however, with those who pretend 
to show us summer-snakes, and would fain dabble with 
vice ; who are amateurs in the diabolical, and draw- 
ing-room dilettanti in damnation. Such, as I have 
said before, are the aesthetic adorers of Villon, whom 
the old roue himself would have most despised, and 
the admirers of " Faustine," whom Faustina would 
have picked up between her thumb and finger, and 
eyed with serene contempt before throwing them out 
of the window. A future age will have for these 
would-be wickeds, who are only monks half turned 
inside out, more laughter than we now indulge in at 
Chloe and Strephon. 

I always regarded my young friend Abdullah as a 
natural child of the devil and a serpent-souled young 
sinner, and he never disappointed me in my opinion 
of him. I never in my life felt any antipathy to ser- 
pents, and he evidently regarded me as a sapengro, or 
snake-master. The first day I met him he put into 
my hands a cobra which had the fangs extracted, and 
then handled an asp which still had its poison teeth 
On his asking me if I was afraid of it, and my telling 
him " No," he gave it to me, and after I had petted 
it, he always manifested an understanding, lean- 
not say sympathy. I should have liked to see that 
boy's sister, if he ever had one, and was not hatched 
out from some egg found in the desert by an Egyp- 
tian incubus or incubator. She must have been a 
charming young lady, and his mother must have 
been a beauty, especially when in court-dress, with 



300 GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 

her broom et prceterea nihil. But neither, alas, could 
be ever seen by me, for it is written in the " Gittin ' 
that there are three hundred species of male demons, 
but what the female herself is like is known to no 
one. 

Abdullah first made his appearance before me at 
Shepherd's Hotel, and despite his amazing natural im- 
pudence, which appeared to such splendid advantage 
in the street that I always thought he must be a lin- 
eal descendant of the brazen serpent himself, he 
evinced a certain timidity which was to me inexpli- 
cable, until I recalled that the big snake of Irish 
legends had shown the same modesty when Saint 
Patrick wanted him to enter the chest which he had 
prepared for his prison. " Sure, it 's a nate little 
house I 've made for yees," said the saint, " wid an 
iligant parlor." " I don't like the look av it at all, at 
all," says the sarpent, as he squinted at it suspiciously, 
" and I 'm loath to inter it." 

Abdullah looked at the parlor as if he too were loath 
to "inter" it; but he was in charge of one in whom 
his race instinctively trust, so I led him in. His ap- 
parel was simple : it consisted of a coarse shirt, very 
short, with a belt around the waist, and an old tar- 
bouch on his head. Between the shirt and his bare 
skin, as in a bag, was about a half peck of cobras, 
asps, vipers, and similar squirming property; while 
between his cap and his hair were generally stowed 
one or two enormous living scorpions, and any small 
serpents that he could not trust to dwell with the 
larger ones. When I asked Abdullah where he con- 
trived to get such vast scorpions and such lively ser- 
pents, he replied, " Out in the desert." I arranged, 
n fact, to go out with him some day a-snaking and 






GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 301 

scorp'ing, and have ever since regretted that I did not 
avail myself of the opportunity. He showed off his 
snakes to the ladies, and concluded by offering to eat 
the largest one alive before our eyes for a dollar, 
which price he speedily reduced to a half. There was 
a young New England lady present who was very anx- 
ious to witness this performance ; but as I informed 
Abdullah that if he attempted anything of the kind 
I would kick him out-of-doors, snakes and all, he 
ceased to offer to show himself a cannibal. Perhaps 
he had learned what Rabbi Simon ben Yochai taught, 
that it is a good deed to smash the heads of the best 
of serpents, even as it is a duty to kill the best of 
Goyim. And if by Goyim he meant Philistines, I 
agree with him. 

I often met Abdullah after that, and helped him to 
several very good exhibitions. Two or three things 
I learned from him. One was that the cobra, when 
wide awake, yet not too violently excited, lifts its 
head and maintains a curious swaying motion, which, 
when accompanied by music, may readily be mistaken 
for dancing acquired from a teacher. The Hindu 
sappa-wallahs make people believe that this "danc- 
ing " is really the result of tuition, and that it is in- 
fluenced by music. Later, I found that the common 
people in Egypt continue to believe that the snakes 
which Abdullah and his tribe exhibit are as dangerous 
and deadly as can be, and that they are managed by 
magic. Whether they believe, as it was held of old 
by the Rabbis, that serpents are to be tamed by sor- 
cery only on the Sabbath, I never learned. 

Abcluiiah was crafty enough for a whole gereration 
of snakes, but in the wisdom attributed to serpents 
he was woefully wanting. He would run by uiy side 



302 GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 

in the street as I rode, expecting that I would pause 
to accept :i large wiggling scorpion as a gift, or pur- 
chase a viper, I supp >se for a riding-whip or a neck- 
tic. One day when I was in a jam of about a hun- 
dred donkey-hoys, trying to outride the roaring mob, 
and all of a fever with heat and dust, Abdullah spied 
me, and, joining the mob, kept running by my side, 
crying in maddening monotony, " Snake, sail ! Scor- 
pion, sah! Very fine snake to-day, sail!" just as 
if his serpents were edible delicacies, which were for 
that day particularly fresh and nice. 

There are three kinds of gypsies in Egypt, the 
Rhagarin, the Helebis, and the Nauar. They have 
secret jargons among themselves; but as I ascertained 
subsequently from specimens given by Captain New- 
boldt l and Seetzen, as quoted by Pott, 2 their language 
is made up of Arabic "back-slang, Turkish and 
Greek, with a very little Romany, so little that it 
is not wonderful that I could not converse with them 
in it. The Syrian gypsies, or Nuri, who are seen 
with bears and monkeys in Cairo, are strangers in the 
land. With them a conversation is not diilicult. It 
is remarkable that while English, German, and Turk- 
ish or Syrian gypsy look so different and difficult as 
printed in books, it is on the whole an easy matter to 
get on with them in conversation. The roots being 
the same, a little management soon supplies the rest. 

Abdullah was a Helebi. The last time I saw him 
I was sitting on the balcony of Shepherd's Hotel, in 
the early evening, with an American, who had never 
Been a snake-charmer. I called the boy, and inad 

1 Vide Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. xvi. part 2, 1856 
p. 285. 
* Die Zigeirier. 



GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 303 

vertently gave him his pay in advance, telling him to 
show all his stock in trade. But the temptation to 
swindle was too great, and seizing the coin he rushed 
back into the darkness. From that hour I beheld 
him no more. I think I can see that last gleam of 
his demon eyes as he turned and fled. I met in after- 
days with other snake-boys, but for an eye which 
indicated an unadulterated child of the devil, and for 
general blackguardly behavior to match, I never 
found anybody like my young friend Abdullah. 

The last snake-masters whom I came across were 
two sailors at the Oriental Seamen's Home in London. 
And strangely enough, on the day of my visit they 
had obtained in London, of all places, a very large 
and profitable job; for they had been employed to 
draw the teeth of all the poisonous serpents in the 
Zoological Garden. Whether these practitioners ever 
applied for or received positions as members of the 
Dental College I do not know, any more than if they 
were entitled to practice as surgeons without licenses. 
Like all the Hindu sappa-wallahs, or snake-men, they 
are what in Europe would be called gypsies. 



GYPSY NAMES AND FAMILY CHARAC- 
TERISTICS. 



THE following list gives the names of the principal gypsy 
families in England, with their characteristics. It was pre- 
pared for me by an old, well-known Romany, of full blood. 
Those which have (A) appended to them are known to have 
representatives in America. For myself, I believe that gyp- 
sies bearing all these names are to be found in both coun- 
tries. I would also state tl^at the personal characteristics 
attributed to certain families are by no means very strictly 
applicable, neither do any of them confine themselves rigidly 
to any particular part of England. I have met, for instance, 
with Bosvilles, Lees, Coopers, Smiths, Bucklands, etc., in 
every part of England as well as Wales. I am aware that 
the list is imperfect in all respects. 

AYRES. 

BAILKY (A). Half-bloods. Also called rich. Roam in 
Sussex. 

BARTON. Lower Wiltshire. 

BLACK. Hampshire. 

BOSVILLE (A). Generally spread, but are specially to be 
found in Devonshire. I have found several fine speci- 
mens of real Romanys among the American Bosvilles. 
In Romany, ( 'Innnomishto, that is, Buss (or Kiss) well. 

BROADWAY (A). Somei 

BUCKLAND. In Gloucestershire, but abounding over Eng- 
land. Sometimes called Chokamengro, that is Tailor. 



GYPSY NAMES. 305 

BURTON (A). Wiltshire. 

CHAPMAN (A). Half-blood, and are commonly spoken of 
as a rich clan. Travel all over England. 

CHILCOTT (vul. CHILCOCK). 

CLARKE. Half-blood. Portsmouth. 

COOPER (A). Chiefly found in Berkshire and Windsor. 
In Romany, Vardo mescro. 

DAVIES. 

DICKENS. Half-blood. 

DIGHTON. Blackheath. 

DRAPER. Hertfordshire. 

FINCH. 

FULLER. Hardly half-blood, but talk Romany. 

GRAY. Essex. In Romany, Gry, or horse. 

HARE (A). Chiefly in Hampshire. 

HAZARD. Half-blood. Windsor. 

HERNE. Oxfordshire and London. " Of this name there 
are," says Borrow (Romano Lavo-Lil), "two gypsy ren- 
derings: (1.) Rosar-mescro or Ratzie-mescro, that is, duck- 
fellow ; the duck being substituted for the heron, for which 
there is no word in Romany, this being done because 
there is a resemblance in the sound of Heron and Herne. 
(2.) Balor-engre, or Hairy People, the translator having 
confounded Herne with Haaren, Old English for hairs." 

HICKS. Half-blood. Berkshire. 

HUGHES. Wiltshire. 

IN GRAHAM (A). Wales and Birmingham, or in the Kalo tern 
or Black Country. 

JAMES. Half-blood. 

JENKINS. Wiltshire. 

JONES. Half-blood. Headquarters at Battersea, near Lon- 
don. 

LEE (A). The same in most respects as the Smiths, but 
are even more widely extended. I have met with several 
of the most decided type of pure-blooded, old-fashioned 
gypsies among Lees in America. They are sometimes 



506 GYPSY NAMES 

among themselves called purum, a lee-k, from the fancied 
resemblance of the words. 

LEWIS. Hampshire. 

LOCKE. Somerset and Gloucestershire. 

LOVEL. Known in Romany as Kamlo, or Kamescro, that 
is, lover. London, but are found everywhere. 

LOVERIDGE. Travel iu Oxfordshire ; are in London at 
Shepherd's Bush. 

MARSHALL. As much Scotch as English, especially in 
Dumfriesshire and Galloway, in which latter region, in 
Saint Cuthbert's church-yard, lies buried the "old man" 
of the race, who died at the age of one hundred and 
seven. In Romany Makkado-tan-engree, that is, Fel- 
lows of the Marshes. Also known as Bungoror, cork- 
fellows and Chikkenemengree, china or earthenware (lit. 
dirt or clay) men, from their cutting corks, and peddling 
pottery, or mending china. 

MATTHEWS. Half-blood. Surrey. 

NORTH. 

PETULENGRO, or SMITH. The Romany name Petulengro 
means Master of the Horseshoe ; that is, Smith. The 
gypsy who made this list declared that he had been ac- 
quainted with Jasper Petulengro, of Sorrow's Lavengro, 
and that he died near Norwich about sixty years ago. 
The Smiths are general as travelers, but are chiefly to 
be found in the East of England. 

PIKE. Berkshire. 

PixroLD, or TENFOLD. Half and quarter blood. Widely 
extended, but most at home in London. 

ROLLIN (ROLAND ?). llalt'-blood. Chiefly about London. 

STAMP. Chiefly in Kent. A small clan. Mr. Borrow de- 
rives (his name from (he Sanskrit Ksump, to go. I 
trust that it has not a more recent and purely English 
derivation. 

SHAW. 

SMALL (A). Found in West England, chiefly iu Somerset 
and Devonshire. 



AND FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS. 307 

STANLEY (A). One of the most extended clans, but said 
to be chiefly found in Devonshire. They sometimes call 
themselves in joke Beshahiy, that is, Sit-Down, from the 
word stan, suggesting standing up in connection with lay. 
Also Bangor, or Barornescre, that is. Stone (stan) people. 
Thus " Stony-lea " was probably their first name. Also 
called Kashtengrees, Woodmen, from the New Forest. 

TAYLOR. A clan described as diddikai, or half-bloods. 
Chiefly in London. This clan should be the only one 
known as Chokamengro. 

TURNER. 

WALKER. Half-blood. Travel about Surrey. 

WELLS (A). Half-blood. Somerset. 

WIIARTON. WORTON. I have only met the Whartons in 
America. 

WHEELER. Pure and half-blood. Battersea. 

WHITE. 

" Adre o Lavines tern o Romanies see WOODS, ROBERTS, 
WILLIAMS, and JONES. In Wales the gypsies are Woods, 
Roberts, Williams, and Jones." l 

CHARACTERISTICS. 8 

Of these gypsies the BAILIES are fair. 
The BIRDS are in Norfolk and Suffolk. 
The BLACKS are dark, stout, and strong. 
The BOSVILLES are rather short, fair, stout, and heavy. 
The BROADWAYS are fair, of medium height and good 
figures. 

The BUCKLANDS are thin, dark, and tallish. 
The BUNCES travel in the South of England. 
The BURTONS are short, dark, and very active. 
The CHAPMANS are fair. 

1 The. Dialect of the. English Gypsies. 

2 I beg- the reader to bear it in mind that all this is literally as it 
was given by an old gypsy, and that I am not i-esponsible for its ac- 
curacy or inaccuracy. 



808 GYPSY NAMES 

The CLARKES are fair and well-sized men. 

The COOPERS are short, dark, and very active. 

The DIGHTONS are very dark and stout. 

The DRAPERS are very tall and large and dark. 

The FAAS are at Kirk Yetholm, in Scotland. 

The GRAYS are very large and fair. 

The GREENES are small and dark. 

The GREGORIES range from Surrey to Suffolk. 

The HARES are large, stout, and dark. 

The HAZARDS are tall and fair. 

The HERNES (Herons) are very large and dark. 

The HICKS are very large, strong, and fair. 

The HUGHES are short, stubby, and dark. 

The INGRAHAMS are fair and all of medium height. 
. The JENKINS are dark, not large, and active. 

The JONES are fair and of middling height. 

The LANES are fair and of medium height. 

The LEES are dark, tall, and stout. 

The LEWIS arc dark and of medium height. 

The LIGHTS are half-bloods, and travel in Middlesex. 

The LOCKES are shortish, dark, and large. 

The LOVELLS are dark and large. 

The MACES are about Norwich. 

The MATTHEWS are thick, short, and stout, fair, and 
good fi ^liters. 

The MILLERS are at Battersea. 

NORTH. Are to be found at Shepherd's Bush. 

The OLIVERS are in Kent. 

The PIKES are light and very tall. 

The PINFOLDS are light, rather tall, not heavy. (Are 
really a Norfolk family. F. Groome.) 

The ROLANDS ar<> rather lurgc and dark. 

The SCAMPS are very dark and stout. 

The SIIAWS travel in Miildl< 

The SMALLS are tall, stout, and fair. 

The SMITHS are dark, rather tall, slender, and active. 

The STANLEYS are tall, dark, and handsome. 



AND FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS. 309 

The TAYLORS are short, stout, and dark. 
The TURNERS are also in Norfolk and Suffolk. 
The WALKERS are stout and fair. 
The WELLS are very light and tall. 
The WHEELERS are thin and fair. 
The WHITES are short and light. 

The YOUNGS are very dark. They travel in the northern 
counties, and belong both to Scotland and England. 

The following is a collection of the more remark- 
able "fore" or Christian names of Romany s : 

MASCULINE NAMES. 

Opi Boswell. 

Wanselo, or Anselo. I was once of the opinion that this 
name was originally Lancelot, but as Mr. Borrow has found 
Wentzlow, i. e., Wenceslas, in England, the latter is prob- 
ably the original. I have found it changed to Onslow, as 
the name painted on a Romany van in Aberystwith, but it 
was pronounced Anselo. 

Pastor-rumis. 

Spico. 

Jineral, *. e., General Cooper. 

Horferus and Horfer. Either Arthur or Orpheus. His 
name was then changed to Wacker-doll, and finally settled 
into Wacker. 

Plato or Platos Buckland. 

Wine- Vinegar Cooper. The original name of the child 
bearing this extraordinary name was Owen. He died soon 
after birth, and was in consequence always spoken of as 
Wine-Vinegar, Wine for the joy which his parents had 
t his birth, and Vinegar to signify their grief at his loss. 

Gilderoy Buckland. Silvauus Boswell. 

Lancelot Cooper. Sylvester, Vester, Wester, 

Oscar Buckland. Westarus and 'Starus. 

Dimiti Buckland. Liberty. 

Piramus Boswell. Goliath. 



310 GYPSY NAMES 

Reconcile. Octavius. 

Justerinus. Render Smith. 

Faunio. 

Shek-esu. I am assured on good authority that a gypsy 
had a child baptized by this name. 

Artaros. Sacki. 

Culvato (Claude). Spysell. 

Divervus. Spico. 

Lasho, i. e., Louis. 

Vesuvius. I do not know whether any child was actually 
called by this burning cognomen, but I remember that a 
gypsy, hearing two gentlemen talking about Mount Ve- 
suvius, was greatly impressed by the name, and consulted 
with them as to the propriety of giving it to his little boy. 

Wisdom. Loverin. 

Inverto. Mantis. 

Studaveres Lovel. Happy Boswell. 

FEMININE NAMES. 

Selinda, Slinda, Linda, Sliudi. Delilah. 

Mia. Prudence. 

Mizelia, Mizelli, Mizela. Providence. 

Lina. Eve. 

Pendivella. Athaliah. 

Jewranum, t. e., Geranium. Gentilla, Gentie. 

Virgin ta. Synfie. Probably Cynthia. 

Suby, Azuba. Sybie. Probably from 

Isaia. Sibyl. 

Richenda. Canairis. 

Kiomi. Fenella. 

Liberiua. Floure, Flower, Flora. 

Malindi. Kisaiya. 

Otchame. Orlenda. 

Renee. Reyora, Regina. 

Sinaminta. Syeira. Probably Cyra. 

Y-yra or Yeira. Truffeni. 

Delira, Deleera. Ocean Solis. 



AND FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS. 311 

Marili Stanley. Penelli. Possibly from 

Britannia. Fenella. 

Glani. Segel Buckland. 

Zuba. Morella Knightly. 

Sybarini Cooper. Eza. 

Esmeralda Locke. Lenda. 

Penti. Collia. 

Reservi. This extraordinary name was derived from a 
reservoir, by which some gypsies were camped, and where 
a child was born. 

.Lementina. Casello (Celia). 

Rodi. Catseye. 

Alablna. Trainette. 

Dosia. Perpinia. 

Lavi. Dora. 

Silvina. Starlina. 

Richenda. Bazena. 

Marbelenni. Bena. 

Ashena. Ewri. 

Vashti. Koket. 

Jfouregh. Lusho. 



GYPSY STORIES. 

IN ROMANY, WITH TRANSLATION. 
MERLINOS TE TRINALI. 

" MiRO koko, pen mandy a rinkeno gudlo ? " 
Avail miri chavi. Me 'tvel pen tute dui te 
shyan trin, vonka tute 'atches sar pukeno. Shun 
amengi. Yeckorus adre o Lavines tern sos a boro 
chovihan, navdo Merlinos. Gusvero mush sos Mer- 
linos, buti seeri covva yuv asti kair. Jindas yuv ta 
pur yeck jivnipen adr&o waver, saster adrd o rupp, 
te o rupp adrd sonakai. Find covva sos adovo te sos 
miro. Te longoduro fon leste jivdes a bori chovihani, 
Trinali sos lakis nav. Boridiri chovihani sos Trinali, 
buti manushe seerdas yoi, buti ryor purdas yoi adrd 
mylia te balor, te nd kesserdas yeck haura pa sar 
lender dush. 

Yeck divvus Merlinos lias lester chovihaneskro ran 
te jas aduro ta latcher i chovihani te pessur laki 
drovan pa siir lakis wafropen. Te pa adovo tacho 
divvus i rani Trinali shundas sa Merlinos boro ruslo 
sorelo chovihan se, te pendas, " Sossi ajafra mush ? 
Me dukkerava leste or yuv tevel mer mande, s'up 
mi o beng ! me shorn te seer leste. Mukkamen dikk 
savo lela kumi shunaben, te savo se o jinescrodiro? " 
Te adoi o Merlinos jas aprd o dromus, sarodfvvus 
akonyo, sarja adrd o kamescro dud, te Trinali jas 



GYPSY STORIES. 313 

adre* o wesh sarja adrd o ratinus, o tarn, o kalopen, 
o sliure, denne yoi sos chovihaui. Kennasig, yan 
latcherde yeckawaver, awer Merlinos nd jindas yoi 
sos Trinali, te Trinali i\6 jindas adovo manusli se 
Merlinos. Te yuv sos buti kamelo ke laki, te yoi 
apopli ; kemiasig yandui ankairde ta kam yecka- 
waver butidiro. Vonka yeck jinella adovo te o waver 
jinella lis, kek boro chirus tvel i duT sosti jinavit. 
Merlinos te Trinali pende " me kamava tute," sig 
ketenes, te chumerde yeckawaver, te beshde alay 
rikkerend adre* o simno pelashta te rakkerde kuslito 
bak. 

Te adenna Merlinos pukkerdas laki, yuv jas ta 
dusher a buti wafodi cliovihani, te Trinali pendas 
lesko o simno covva, sa yoi sos ruzno ta kair o simno 
keti a boro chovihano. Te i dui ankairede ta man- 
ger yeckawaver ta mukk o covva ja, te yoi te yuv 
shomas atrash o nasherin lende pireno te pireni. 
Awer Merlinos pendas, *' Mandy sovaballdom pa o 
kam ta pur laki pa sar lakis jivaben adr o waver 
truppo." Te yoi ruvvedas te pendas, " Sovahalldaa 
me pa o chone ta pur adovo chovihano adre awavero, 
sim's tnte." Denna Merlinos putcberdas, " Sasi les- 
jers nav ? " Yoi pendas, u Merlinos." Yuv rakkere- 
das palall, " Me shorn leste, sasi tiro nav ? " Yoi 
shelledas avrT, " Trinali ! " 

Kenna vanka cbovihanis sovahallan chumeny apr^ 
o kam te i choni, yan sosti keravit or m^r. Te denna 
Merlinos pendas, " Jinesa tu sa ta kair akovo pennis 
Bar kushto te tacho ? " " Kekker miro kamlo pireno," 
pendas i chori chovihani sil yoi ruvdas." "Denna 
me shorn kumi jinescro, ne tute," pendas Merlinos. 
" Shukar te kuslito covva se akovo, miri romni. Me 
tevel pur tute adre* mande, te mande adre' tute. Te 
vonka mendui shorn romadi mendui tevel yeck." 






814 GYPSY STORIES. 

Sa yeck mush ta divvus kenna p nella yoi siggevdas 
leste, te awavero pens yuv piggerdas laid. Ne jinava 
me miri kameli. Ne dikkdas tu kekker a dui sheres- 
cro haura ? Avail ! Wiisser lis uppar, te vanka lis 
pellalay pukk amengy savo rikk se alay. Welsher 
pendas man adovo. Welsheri pennena sarja tacho- 
pen. 

MERLIN AND TEINALI. 

" My uncle, tell me a pretty story ! " 

Yes, my child. I will tell you two, and perhaps 
three, if you keep very quiet. Listen to me. Once 
in Wales there was a great wizard named Merlin. 
Many magic things he could do. He knew how to 
change one living being into another, iron into silver, 
and silver into gold. A fine thing that would be if it 
were mine. And afar from him lived a great witch. 
Trinali was her name. A great witch was Trinali. 
Many men did she enchant, many gentlemen did she 
change into asses and pigs, and never cared a copper 
for all their sufferings. 

One day Merlin took his magic rod, and went afar 
to find the witch, and pay her severely for all her 
wickedness. And on that very [true] day the lady 
Trinali heard how Merlin was [isj a great, powerful 
wi/ard, and said, " What sort of a man is this? I 
will punish him or he shall kill me, deuce help me! 
. will bewitch him. Let us see who has the most 
cleverness and who is the most knowing. " And 
then Merlin went on the road all day alone, always 
in sunshine ; and Trinali went in (lie forest, always in 
the, shade, tin; darkness, the gloom, for she was a 
black witch. Soon they found one another, but Mer- 
lin did not know [that] she was Trinali, and Trinah 



GYPSY STORIES. 315 

did not know that man was [is to be] Merlin. And 
he was very pleasant to her, and she to him again. 
Very soon the two began to love one another very 
much. When one knows that and the other knows 
it, both will soon know it. Merlin and Trinali said 
" I love thee " both together, and kissed one another, 
and sat down wrapped in the same cloak, and con- 
versed happily. 

Then Merlin told her he was going to punish a 
very wicked witch ; and Trinali told him the same 
thing, how she was bold [daring] to do the same 
thing to a great wizard. And the two began to beg 
one another to let the thing go, and she and he were 
afraid of losing lover and sweetheart. But Merlin 
said, " I swore by the sun to change her for her 
whole life into another form " [body] ; and she wept 
and said, " I swore by the moon to change that wiz- 
ard into another [person] even as you did." Then 
Merlin inquired, " What is his name ? " She said, 
"Merlin." He replied, "I am he; what is your 
name ? " She cried aloud, " Trinali." 

Now when witches swear anything on the snn or 
the moon, they must do it or die. Then Merlin said, 
44 Do you know how to make this business all nice 
and right?" "Not at all, my dear love," said the 
poor witch, as she wept. " Then I am cleverer than 
you," said Merlin. " An easy and nice thing it is, 
my bride. For I will change you into me, and myself 
into you. And when we are married we two will be 
one." 

So one man says nowadays that she conquered 
him, and another that he conquered her. I do not 
know [which it was], my dear. Did you ever see a 
two-headed halfpenny ? Yes ? Throw it up, and 



i 



316 GYPSY STORIES. 

when it falls down ask me which side is under. A 
Welsher told me that story. Welshers always tell 
the truth. 

O PUV-SUVER. 

Yeckorus sims buti kedivvus, sos rakli, te yoi sos 
kushti partanengrT, te yoi astis kair a rinkeno plachta, 
yeck sar divvus. Te covakai chi kamdas rye butidiro, 
awer yeck divvus lakis pireno sos stardo adr staru- 
ben. Te vonka yoi shundas Us, yoi hushtiedas apre* 
te jas keti krallis te mangerdas leste choruknes ta 
mukk lakis pireno ja piro. Te krallis patserdaa Ifiki 
tevel yoi kairdas leste a rinkeno plachta, yeck sar 
divvus pa kurikus, hafta plachta pa hafta divvus, yuv 
tvel ferdel leste, te d6 leste tachaben ta ja 'vii. I 
tani rani siggerdas ta keravit, te pa sbov divvus yoi 
taderedas adrom, kushti zT, pii lis te sarkon chirus 
ad re o shab yoi bitr.lu'nlas plaulita keta krallis. Awer 
avella yeck divvus yoi sos kinlo, te pendes yoi ne*i 
kamdas kair butsi "dovo divvus si sos brishnu te yoi 
nestis shiri a sappa clre o kamlo dud. Adenn' o krallis 
pen das te yoi nestis kair butsi hafta divvus lava lakis 
pireno, o rye sosti hatch staramescro te yoi ne mukk- 
tlas ktiinaben aclosta pa leste. Te i rakli sos sa liun- 
Malo te tukno drc lakis zT yoi merdas o ruvvin te lias 
puraben adrc o puv-suver. Te keti divvus kenna yoi 
paiulella apre lakris tavia, vonka kam peshella, te i 
cuttor pani tu dikoss' apre lende slian o panni fon 
lakis yakka yoi ruvdas pa liikris pTreno. 

Te tu vi-l hatch kaulo y<'ck lilieskro divvus tu astis 
nashcr sar o kairobcn fon o chollo kurikus, miri chavi. 
Tu peness' tu kamess 1 to shun waveri gudli. Sar 
tacho. Mo tevel puker tute rinkno gudlo apre kali 
fold. Repper tute sarkon me penava sa me repper 
das lis fon miro babus. 



GYPSY STORIES. 317 

THE SPIDER.* 

Once there was a girl, as there are many to-day, 
and she was a good needle-worker, and could make a 
beautiful cloak in one day. And that [there] girl 
loved a gentleman very much ; but one day her sweet- 
heart was shut up in prison, and when she heard it 
she hastened and went to the king, and begged him 
humbly to let her love go free. And the king prom- 
ised her if she would make him a fine cloak, one 
every day for a week, seven cloaks for seven days, 
he would forgive him, and give him leave to go free. 
The young lady hastened to do it, and for six days 
she worked hard [lit. pulled away] cheerfully at it, 
and always in the evening she sent a cloak to the 
king. But it came [happened] one day that she was 
tired, and said [that] she did not wish to work be- 
cause it was rainy, and she could not dry or bleach 
the cloth [ ? ] in the sunlight. Then the king said 
that if she could not work seven days to get her lover 
the gentleman must remain imprisoned, for she did 
not love him as she should [did not let love enough 
on him]. And the 'maid was so angry and vexed in 
her heart [or soul] that she died of grief, and was 
changed into a spider. And to this day she spreads 
out her threads when the sun shines, and the dew- 
drops which you see on them are the tears which she 
has wept for her lover. 

If you remain idle one summer day you may lose a 
whole week's work, my dear. You say that you 
would like to hear more stories ! All right. I will 
tell you a nice story about lazy people. 2 Remember 

1 Literally, the earth-sewer. 

2 Kali foki. Kdlo means, as in Hindustani, not only black, but 
also lazy. Pronounced kaw-lo. 



318 GYPSY STORIES. 

all I toll you, as I remembered it from my grand- 
father. 

GORGIO, KALO-MANUSII, TE ROM. 

Yeckorus pfi ankairoben, kon i manushia nanei la- 
via, o boro Duvel jas pirian. Siisiasar? Shun mirx 
cliavi, me givellis tute : 

Buti beshia kedivvtis kenna 

Adre o tern ankairobeu, 
boro Diivel jas 'vrl ajii, 

Ta dikk i inushia miraben. 

Sa yuv pirridas, dikkdas trin musbia pash o dromes- 
cro rikk, hatcliin keti chomano mush te vel d<j lenclis 
navia, te len putcherde o boro Duvel ta navver Icnde. 
Dordi, o yeckto mush sos pano, te o boro Duvel puk- 
kerdas kavodoi, " Gorgio." Te yuv sikkerdas leste 
kokero keti dovo, te suderdas leste buti kami'li sa 
Jewries, te rinkeni rudaben, te jas gor<i''nu*. Te o 
wavescro geero sos kalo sa skunya, te o boro Diivel 
pemlas, " Nigger!" te yuv nikkercda* adnun, sa 
sujery te muzhili, te yuvse nikkerin sarja keti keniia, 
ad rd o kamescro dud, te yuv's kalo-kalo ta kair butsi, 
nanei tu serbers leste keti lis, te tazzers lis. Te o 
trinto rnush sos brauno, te yuv bj-shdas pfikeno, tuvin 
.este's swagler, keti o boro Duvel rakkenlas, " Rom ! " 
te adenna o mush hatchedaa a])re, te pandas buti 
kamelo, "Parraco Rya tiro kushtaben ; mo (c vcl 
mislito piav tiro snstopen ! " '\\> jas romeli a r<><nn;n 
langs i lescro ronini, to ki-kkor dukUerdas lostor koko- 
rus, 116 kossordas pa chiclii ion adennadoi keti koiina, 
te jas adrnl o swoli, te kckkcr hatchcdas pukcnus, te 
nanei Imdder ta keravit ket 1 o boro Duvel ponel!' o 
lav. Tacho adovo se sa tiri yakka, miri kamli. 



GYPSY STORIES. . 319 

GORGIO, 1 BLACK MAN, AND GYPSY. 

Once in the creation, when men had no names, the 
Lord went walking. How was that ? Listen, my 
child, I will sing it to yon : 

Many a year has passed away 

Since the world was first begun, 
That the great Lord went out one day 

To see how men's lives went on. 

As he walked along he saw three men by the road- 
side, waiting till some man would give them names ; 
and they asked the Lord to name them. See ! the 
first man was white, and the Lord called him Gorgio. 
Then he adapted himself to that name, and adorned 
himself with jewelry and fine clothes, and went gor- 
geous. And the other man was black and the Lord 
called him Nigger, and he lounged away [nikker, to 
lounge, loiter; an attempted pun], so idle and foul; 
and he is always lounging till now in the sunshine, 
and he is too lazy [kalo-kalo, black-black, or lazy- 
lazy, that is, too black or too lazy] to work unless 
you compel and punish him. And the third man 
was brown, and he sat quiet, smoking his pipe, till 
the Lord said, Rom ! [gypsy, or " roam "] ; and then 
that man arose and said, very politely, " Thank you, 
Lord, for your kindness. I 'd be glad to drink your 
health." And he went, Romany fashion, a-roaming 2 
with his romni [wife], and never troubled himself 
about anything from that time till to-day, and went 
through the world, and never rested and never wished 

1 Goryio. Gentile ; any man not a gypsy. Possibly from f/hora aji 
"Master white man," Hindu. Used as yoi is applied hy Hebrews to 
the unbelievers. 

2 Romeli, rom'ni. Wandering, gypsyiug. It is remarkable that 
r*mna, in Hindu, means to roam. 



320 GYPSY STORIES. 

to until the Lord speaks the word. That is all as 
true as your eyes, my dear ! 



TAG-BAR TE SASTER. 

8A O KAM SOS ANKERDO. 

" Pen mandy a waver gudlo trustal o ankairoben ! " 
N<5 shomas adoi, awer shundom buti apa lis fon miro 
babus. Foki pende mengy sa o chollo-tem l sos ke"rdo 
fori o kam, awer i Romany chalia savo keren sar 
chingernes, pen o kam sos kerdo fon o boro tern. 
Wafedo gry se adovo te nestis ja sigan te anpali o 
kushto drom. Yeckorus 'drd o puro chirus, te kenna, 
sos a bori pureni chovihani te kerdas sirlni covvas, 
te jivdas sar akonyo adr6 o heb adr<j o ratti. Yeck 
divvus 3^01 latchedas yag-bar adr<5 o puv, te tilldas cs 
apr6 te pukkeredas lestes nav pale, " Yag-bar." Te 
pash a bitttis yoi latchedas a bitto kusbto-saster, te 
hadordas lis apr te putchedas lestis nav, te lis rak- 
kerdas apopli, " Saster." Chivdasi dui 'du6 lakis 
puts!, te pendas Yag-bar, " Tu sosti rummer o rye, 
Saster!" Te yan kdrdavit, awer yeck divvus i dui 
ankairede ta chinger, te Saster dds lestis juva Yag- 
bar a tatto-yek adrd o yakk, te kairedas i chingari la 
mukker avri, te hotcher i puri jiiva's puts!. Sa yoi 
wusserdas hotcherni putsl adrd o bev, te pendas lis ta 
kessur adrom keti avenna o mush sari juva kun kek- 
ker chingerd chichi. I chingari shan staria, te dovo 
yiig se o kam, te lis nanei jillo avii keti kenna, te lis 
level hotelier anduro buti beshia pa sar jinova m{) 
keti chingerben. Tacho si ? Nd shomas adoi. 

1 Chollo-tem. Whole country, world. 



GYPSY STORIES. 



321 



FLINT AND STEEL. 

OR HOW THE SUN WAS CREATED. 

"Tell me another story about the creation !" 
I was not tli L' re at the time, but I heard a great deal 
about it from my grandfather. All he did there was 
to turn the wheel. People tell me that the world was 
made from the sun, but gypsies, who do everything all 
contrary, say that the sun was made from the earth. 
A bad horse is that which will not travel either way 
on a road. Once in the old time, as [there may be] 
now, was a great old witch, who made enchantments, 
and lived all alone in the sky in the night. One day 
she found a flint in a field, and picked her up, and the 
stone told her that her name was Flint. And after a 
bit she found a small piece of steel, and picked him up, 
and asked his name, and he replied, "Steel" [iron]. 
She put the tw r o in her pocket, and said to Flint, " You 
must marry Master Steel." So they did, but one day 
the two began to quarrel, and Steel gave his wife Flint 
a hot one [a severe blow] in the eye, and made sparks 
fly, and set fire to the old woman's pocket. So she 
threw the burning pocket up into the sky, and told 
it to stay there until a man and his wife who had 
never quarreled should come there. The sparks [from 
Flint's eye] are the stars, and the fire is the sun, and 
it has not gone out as yet, and it will burn on many 
a year, for all I know to the contrary. Is it true ? 
I was not there. 



21 



822 GYPSY STORIES. 



O MAXUSII KOX JIVDAS ADft O CIIONE (SIIONK). 
u Pen mandy a waver gudlo apa o clionc?" 
Avali iniri deari. Adr o puro eliirus butid 
manushia jivvede kushti-bakeno Vlre o clionc, sfir chi- 
chi ta kair awer t;t rikker ilp o yag so kdrela o dud. 
Awer, amen i i'oki jivdas biiti wat'odo inuleno nianush, 
kon dusherdas te lias witchabeo atut sar i waveri 
deari manusliia, te yuv kairedas lis sa's ta shikker lende 
sar adrom, te clrivdas len avii o chone. Te kenna o 
sig o i i'oki slian jdlo, yuv pendas : " Kenna akovi 
dinneli juckalis slian jillo, me te vel jiv maslmi te 
kusbto, sar akonyus." Awer pash o bitto, o yilg 
ankairdae ta hatch alay, te akovo geero latchdas se 
yuv ne kamdas ta hatch adre* o ratti te merav sliillino, 
yuv sosti ja sarja pa kosht. Te kanna i wa-veri foki 
shanas adoi, van ne kerden o rikkaben te waddeiin i 
kaslita adre o divvusko chirus, awer kenna asti lei lis 
Bar apre sustis pikkia, siir i ratti, te sar o divvus. 
Sa i foki akai apre o chollo-tem dikena adovo inannsh 
keti divvus kenna, sar pordo o koshter te bittered, te 
miiserd te gumeri, te guberin keti leskro noko kokero, 
te kunerin akonyus pash lestis yag. Te i chori niushia 
te yuv badderedas adrom, yul [van] jassed sfir atufc 
te trustal o hev akai, te adoi, te hatchede up bull pa 
lender kokeros ; te adovi shan i starya, te chirkia, te 
bitti dudapen tu dikessa sarakai. 

" Se adovo sar tacho ? " Akovi se kumi te me 
jinova. Awer kanna sa tu penessa m6 astis dikk o 
manush dr(j o chone savo rikkela kasht aprd lestes 
duino, yuv susti keravic ta ehiv adre o yag, te yuv ne 
tevel dukker lestes kokero ta kair adovo te yuv sus 
riiinado or lias palyor, sa lis se kaimnabe.n adosta o 
mush ehingerd lestis palya te nassered lende sar 
aiiduro. Tacho. 



GYPSY STORIES. 



THE MAN WHO LIVED IN THE MOON. 

"Tell me another story about the moon." 
Yes, my dear. In the old time many men lived 
happily in the moon, with nothing to do but keep 
up the fire which makes the light. But among the 
folk lived a very wicked, obstinate man, who troubled 
and hated all the other nice [dear] people, and he 
managed it so as to drive them all away, and put 
them out of the moon. And when the mass of the 
folk were gone, he said, " Now those stupid dogs 
have gone, I will live comfortably and well, all alone." 
But after a bit the fire began to burn down, and that 
man found that if he did not want to be in the dark- 
ness [night] and die of cold he must go all the time 
for wood. And when the other people were there, 
they never did any carrying or splitting wood in the 
day-time, but now he had to take it all on his shoul- 
ders, all night and all day. So the people here on 
our earth see that man to this day all burdened [full] 
of wood, and bitter and grumbling to himself, and 
lurking alone by his fire. And the poor people 
whom he had driven away went all across and around 
heaven, here and there, and set up in business for 
themselves, and they are the stars and planets and 
lesser lights which you see all about. 

ROMANY TACHIPEN. 

Taken down accurately from an old gypsy. Com- 
mon dialect, or " half-and-half " language. 

"Rya, tute kams mandy to pukker tute the ta- 
?hopen a\vo ? Se's a boro or a kusi covva, man- 
Hy '11 rakker tacho, s'up mi-duvel, apre* mi meriben, 



324 GYPSY STORIES. 

bengis adre man'nys see if mandy pens a bitto huck- 
abeii ! An' sa se adduvvel ? Did mandy ever chore 
a kfini adre mi jiv ? and what do the Romany dials 
kair o' the poris, 'cause kekker ever dikked chichi 
pash of a Romany tan ? Kek rya, mandy never 
chored akani an' adr sixty beshes kenna 'at mandy's 
been apre' the drumyors, an' sar dovo chirus mandy 
never dikked or shuned or jinned of a Romany dial's 
chorin yeck. What 's adduvel tute pens ? that 
Petulengro kaliko divvus penned tute yuv rikkered 
a yagengeree to muller kanis ! Avali rya tacho 
se aja the mush penned adr6 his kokero see weshni 
kanis. But kek kairescro kanis. Romanis kekker 
chores lendy." 

GYPSY TRUTH. 

" Master, you want me to tell you all the truth, 
yes ? If it 's a big or a little thing, I '11 tell the 
truth, so help me God, upon my life ! The devil be 
in my soul if I tell the least lie ! And what is it ? 
Did I ever in all my life steal a chicken ?-and what 
do the gypsies do with the feathers, because nobody 
ever saw any near a gypsy tent ? Never, sir, I never 
stole a chicken ; and in all the sixty years that I 've 
been on the roads, in all that time I never sa\v or 
heard or knew of a gypsy's stealing one. What 's 
that you say ? that Petulengro told you yesterday 
that he carried a gun to kill chickens! Ah yes, 
sir, that is true, too. The man meant in his heart 
wood chickens [that is, pheasants]. But not domestic 
chickens. Gypsies never steal them. 1 " 

1 There i> a uroat mom! (ii only in the irvpsy mind, but 

in that of the prasant, between stealing ami poaching. Hut in f.i 
regards the appropriation of poultry of any kind, a young English 
gypsy has neither more nor less scruple than other poor people of hia 



GYPSY STORIES. 325 



CHOVIHAKIPEN. 

" Miri diri bibT, me kamava butidiro tevel chovi- 
hani. Kamava ta dukker geeris te ta jiii kunjerni 
cola. Tu sosti sikker mengi sarakovi." 

" Oh miri kamli ! vonka tu vissa te vel chovihani, 
te i Gorgie jinena lis, tu lesa buti tugnus. Sar i chavi 
tevel shellavrT, te kair a gudli te \vusser baria kdnna 
dikena tute, te shy an i bori foki me'rena tute. Awer 
kushti se ta jin garini covva, kushti se vonka chori 
churkni Java te sar i sweti chungen' apre", jinela sa 
ta kair lende wafodopen ta pessur sar lenghis dush. 
Te man tevel sikker tute chomany chovihaneskes. 
Shun ! Vonka tu kamesa pen o dukkerin, lesa tu sar 
tiro man 1 ta latch er ajafera a manush te manushl lis 
se. Dd lende o yack, chiv lis drovdn opa lakis yakka 
tevel se rakli. Vonka se pash trasherdo yoi tevel 
pen buti talla jinaben. Kdnna tu sos kdo lis sdrkon 
cherus tu astis risser buti dinneli chaia sa tav trustal 
tiro angushtri. Kenna-sig tiri yakka dikena pensa 
sappa, te vonka tu shan hoini tu tevel dikk pens' o 
ptiro beng. O piishno covva miri dear! se ta jin sa 
ta plasser, te kamer, te masher foki. Vanka rakli 
lela chumeni kek-siglo adr<j lakis mui, tu sastis pen 
laki adovo sikerela buti bak. Kanna lela lulli te 
safrani balia, pen laki adovo se tatcho sigaben yoi 
sasti lei buti sonakei. Kdnna lakis koria wena kete- 
nes, dovo sikerela yoi tevel ketni buti barveli rya. 
Pen sarja vonka tu dikesa o latch apre" lakis cham, 
talla lakis kor, te vaniso, adovos sigaben yoi tevet a 
bori rani. Ma kessur tu ki lo se, 'prd o truppo te 
pre o bull, pen laki sarja o latch adoi se sigaben o 

1 Man tana, Hindostani : to set the heart upon. Manner, Eng. 
Gyp. : t:> encourage ; also, to forbid. 



326 GYPSY STORIES. 

boridirines. Hammer laki apre. Te dikcssa tu yoi 
lela bitti wastia te bitti piria, pen laki trustal a rye 
ko so ilivius pa rinkeni plria, te sa o rinkeno wast 
nnela kumi baclit te rinkno mui. Hamnierin te 
kamerin te inasherin te shorin shan o pash o duk- 
kerin. Se kck rakli te kekno mush adrd mi duvel's 
eh olio tern savo ne se bo'ino te hunkari pa chomani, 
te si tu astis latcher sa se tu susti lei lender wongur. 
Stastis, latcher sar o rakkerben aprd foki. 

" Awer miri bibi, adovos sar hokkanipen. Me ka- 
mavabuti ta sikker tachni chovihanipen. Pen mandy 
si nanei taehi chovahanis, te sa yol dikena." 

" O tacbi chovihani miri chavi, lela yakka pensa 
chiriclo, o kunsiis se rikkeredo aprd pensa bongo chiv. 
Butt Yahuili, te nebollongeri lena jafri yakka. Te 
cho'hani balia shan rikkerdi pa lakis ankairoben te 
surri, te adenna risserdi. Vonka Gorgikani cho'hani 
lena shelni yakka, adulli shan i trasheni. 

" Me penava tuki chomani sirines. Vonka tu lat- 
chesa o pori te o sasterni krafni, te anpali tu latchesa 
cuttor fon pnpiros, tu sastis chin apre lis sar o pori 
savo tu kamcsa, te ha lis te tu lesa lis. Awer tu 
sasti chin sar tiro noko ratt. Si tu latchessa pash o 
lon-doeyav o boro inatcheskro-bar, te o puro curro, 
chiv lis keti kan, sliunesa godli. Tevel tastis kana 
pordo clione peshela, bcsli sar nangi adrd lakis dud 
hefta ratti, te shundes adrd lis, sarrati o gudli te vel 
tachodiro, te anpfile tu shunesa i feris rakerena sig 
adosta. Vonka tu keresa hev sar o bar adrd o mul- 
leskri-tan, jasa tu adoi yeck ratti pash a waver te 
kciina-sig tu sliuiie-a sa i intllia rakerena. Sorkon- 
chirus pencna ki lovo se ga.rri<lo. Sastis Id o bar to 
lis apre o mulleskri-tan, talla hev si kdilo. 

" Me penava tuki apopli chomani clio'haunes. Le* 



GYPSY STORIES. 327 

vini o sar covva te suvcrenti apre* o pani, pa lenia, 
pa doeyav. Te asar i pam>skri mullos kon jivenn, 
adre o pani rakkerena keti puveskri chovilianis. Si 
manush dikela pano panna, te part an te diklo apr6 o 
pani te lela lis, adovo sikela astis lei a pirt-ni, o yuzliior 
te o kushtidir o partan se, o ktishtidir i rakli. Si 
latchesa ran apre o pani, dovo sikela sastis kui- tiro 
wafedo geero. Cliokka or curro apre o pani penela 
tu tevel sig atch kamelo sar tiri pireni, te plreno. 
Te safrani ruzhia pa pani dukerena sonaki, te pauni, 
rupp, te loli, kammaben." 

"Kana latchesa klisin, dovo se buti bacht. Vonka 
haderesa lis aprd, pen o manusbeskro te rafcleskri nav, 
te yan wena kamlo o tute. Butidir bacht si lullo dori 
te tav. Rikker lis, sikela kusliti kamaben. Man 
nasher lis avrT tiro zi miri chavi." 

" Nanei, bib!, kekker." 

WITCHCRAFT. 1 

" My dear aunt, I wish very much to be a witch. 
I would like to enchant people and to know secret 
things. You can teach me all that." 

" Oh, my darling! if you come to be a witch, and 
the Gentiles know it, you will have much trouble. 
All the children will cry aloud, and make a noise and 
throw stones at you when they see you, and perhaps 
the grown-up people will kill you. But it is nice to 
know secret things ; pleasant for a poor old humble 
woman whom all the world spits upon to know how 
to do them evil and pay them for their cruelty. And 
7 will teach you something of witchcraft. Listen! 

Clwvihan, m., chovihctnl, fern., often cho'lan or cho'anl, a witch 
Probably from the Hindu 'foanee, a witch, wbicn has nearly the sain* 
pronunciation as the English gypsy word. 



328 GYPSY STORIES. 

When thoti wilt tell a fortune, put all thy heart into 
finding out what kind of a man or woman thou hast 
to deal with. Look [keenly], fix thy glance sharply, 
especially if it be a girl. When she is half-frightened, 
she will tell you much without knowing it. When 
thou shalt have often done this thou wilt be able to 
twist many a silly girl like twine around thy fingers. 
Soon thy eyes will look like a snake's, and when 
thou art angry thou wilt look like the old devil. 
Half the business, my dear, is to know how to please 
and flatter and allure people. When a girl has any- 
thing unusual in her face, you must tell her that it 
signifies extraordinary luck. If she have red or yel- 
low hair, tell her that is a true sign that she will 
have much gold. When her eyebrows meet, that 
shows she will be united to many rich gentlemen. 
Tell her always, when you see a mole on her eheek 
or her forehead or anything, that is a sign she will 
become a great lady. Never mind where it is, on her 
body, tell her always that a mole or fleck is a sign 
of greatness. Praise Jiiir up. And if you see that she 
has small hands or feet, tell her about a gentleman 
who is wild about pretty feet, and how a, preltv hand 
brings more luck than a pretty face. Praising and 
petting and alluring and crying-up are half of fort n no- 
telling. There is no girl and no man in all the Lord's 
earth who is not proud and vain about something, 
and if you can find it out you can get their money. 
If you can, pick up all the gossip about people." 

" But, my aunt, that is all humbug. I wish much 
to learn real witchc-rait. Tell me if there are no rea. 
witc.hi's, and how they look." 

"A real witch, my child, has eyes like a bird, the 
corner turned up like the point of a curved pointed 



GYPSY STORIES. 



329 



knife. Many Jews and im-Christians have such eyes. 
And witches' hairs are drawn out from the beginning 
[roots] and straight, and then curled [at the ends] . 
When Gentile witches have green eyes they are the 
most [to be] dreaded. 

" I will tell you something magical. When you find 
a pen or^n iron nail, and then a piece of paper, you 
should write on it with the pen all thou wishest, and 
eat it, and thou wilt get thy wish. But thou must 
write all in thy own blood. If thou findest by the 
sea a great shell or an old pitcher [cup, etc.], put it to 
your ear: you will hear a noise. If you can, when 
the full moon shines sit quite naked in her light and 
listen to it ; every night the noise will become more 
distinct, and then thou wilt hear the fairies talking 
plainty enough. When you make a hole with a stone 
in a tomb go there night after night, and erelong 
thou wilt hear what the dead are saying. Often they 
tell where money is buried. You must take a stone 
and turn it around in the tomb till a hole is there. 

" I will tell you something more witchly. Observe 
[take care] of everything that swims on water, on 
rivers or the sea. For so the water-spirits who live 
in the water speak to the earth's witches. If a man 
sees cloth on the water and gets it, that shows he 
will get a sweetheart; the cleaner and nicer the 
cloth, the better the maid. If you find a staff [stick 
or rod] on the water, that shows you will beat your 
enemy. A shoe or cup floating on the water means 
that you will soon be loved by your sweetheart. And 
yellow flowers [floating] on the water foretell gold, 
and white, silver, and red, love. 

" When you find a key, that is much luck. When 
you pick [lift it] up, utter a male or female name, 



330 GYPSY STORIES. 

and the person will become your own. Very lucky 
is a red string or ribbon. Keep it. It foretells happy 
love. Do not let this run away from tlw soul, my 
child." 

"No, aunt, never.'* 



THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 



This chapter contains in abridged form the substance of papers on the 
origin of the gypsies and their language, read before the London Philolog- 
ical Society ; also of another paper read before the Oriental Congress at 
Florence in 1878 ; and a resume of these published in the London Satur- 
day Review. 

IT has been repeated until the remark has become 
accepted as a sort of truism, that the gypsies are a 
mysterious race, and that nothing is known of their 
origin. And a few years ago this was true ; but 
within those years so much has been discovered that 
at present there is really no more mystery attached 
to the beginning of these nomads than is peculiar 
to many other peoples. What these discoveries or 
grounds of belief are I shall proceed to give briefly, 
my limits not permitting the detailed citation of au- 
thorities. First, then, there appears to be every reason 
for believing with Captain Richard Burton that the 
Jats of Northwestern India furnished so large a pro- 
portion of the emigrants or exiles who, from the tenth 
century, went out of India westward, that there is very 
little risk in assuming it as an hypothesis, at least, 
that they formed the Hauptstamm of the gypsies of 
Europe. What other elements entered into these, 
with whom we are all familiar, will be considered 
presently. These gypsies came from India, where 
saste is established and callings are hereditary even 



832 THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 

among ont-castes. It is not assuming too much to 
suppose that, as they evinced a marked aptitude for 
certain pursuits and an inveterate attachment to Cer- 
tain habits, their ancestors had in these respects re- 
sembled them for ages. These pursuits and habits 
were that 

They were tinkers, smiths, and farriers. 

They dealt in horses, and were naturally familiar 
with them. 

They were without religion. 

They were unscrupulous thieves. 

Their women were fortune-tellers, especially by 
chiromancy. 

They ate without scruple animals which had died 
a -natural death, being especially fond of the pig, 
which, when it has thus been "butchered by God," 
is still regarded even by prosperous gypsies in Eng- 
land as a delicacy. 

They flayed animals, carried corpses, and showed 
such aptness for these and similar detested callings 
that in several European countries they long monop- 
olized them. 

They made and sold mats, baskets, and small arti- 
cles of wood. 

They have shown great skill as dancers, musicians, 
singers, acrobats ; and it is a rule almost without ex- 
ception that there is hardly a traveling company of 
such performers or a theatre, in Europe or America, 
in which there is not at least one person with some 
Romany blood. 

Their hair n-mains black to advanced age, and they 
retain it longer than do Europeans or ordinary Ori- 
entals. 

They speak an Aryan tongue, which agrees in the 



THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 333 

main with that of the Jats, but which contains words 
gathered from other Indian sources. This is a con- 
sideration of the utmost importance, as by it alone 
can we determine what was the agglomeration of 
tribes in India which formed the Western gypsy. 

Admitting these as the peculiar pursuits of the 
race, the next step should be to consider what are 
the principal nomadic tribes of gypsies in India and 
Persia, and how far their occupations agree with those 
of the Romany of Europe. That the Jats probably 
supplied the main stock has been admitted. This 
was a bold race of Northwestern India, which at one 
time had such power as to obtain important victories 
over the caliphs. They were broken and dispersed 
in the eleventh century by Mahmoud, many thou- 
sands of them wandering to the West. They were 
without religion, " of the horse, horsey," and notori- 
ous thieves. In this they agree with the European 
gypsy. But they are not habitual eaters of mullo 
bdlor, or " dead pork ; " they do not devour every- 
thing like dogs. We cannot ascertain that the Jat 
is specially a musician, a dancer, a mat and basket 
maker, a rope-dancer, a bear-leader, or a peddler. 
We do not know whether they are peculiar in India 
among the Indians for keeping their hair unchanged 
to old age, as do pure-blood English gypsies. All of 
these things are, however, markedly characteristic of 
certain different kinds of wanderers, or gypsies, in 
India. From this we conclude, hypothetically, that 
the Jat warriors were supplemented by other tribes, 
chief among these may have been the Dom, 
and that the Jat element has at present disappeared, 
and been supplanted by the lower type. 

The Doms are a race of gypsies found from Cen* 



334 THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 

trnl India to tin? far northern frontier, where a por- 
tion of their early ancestry appears as the Dninarr, 
and are supposed to he pre-Arvan. In "The People 
of India,'' edited by J. Forbes Watson and J. W. 
Kaye (India Museum, 1868), \ve are told that the 
appearance and modes of life of the Doms indicate 
a marked difference from those of the people who sur- 
round them (in Behar). The Hindus admit their 
claim to antiquity. Their designation in the Shas- 
tras is Sopnckh, meaning dog-eater. They are wan- 
derers ; they make baskets and mats, and are invet- 
erate drinkers of spirits, spending all their earnings 
on it. They have almost a monopoly as to burning 
corpses and handling all dead bodies. They eat all 
animals which have died a natural death, and are par- 
ticularly fond of pork of this description. " Notwith- 
standing profligate habits, many of them attain the 
>f eighty or ninety; and it is not till sixty or 
sixty-five that their hair begins to get white." The 
Doniarr are a mountain race, nomads, shepherds, and 
robbers. Travelers speak of them as "gypsies." A 
specimen which we have of their language would, 
with the exception of one word, which is probably 
an error of the transcriber, be intelligible io any Eng- 
lish gypsy, and be called pure Romany. Finally, the 
ordinary Dom calls himself a Dom, his wife a Domni, 
and the being a Dom, or the collective gypsydoin, 
Doinnipana. D in Hindustani is found as r in Eng 
lisli gypsy speech, e. #., doi, a wooden spoon, is 
known in Europe as roi. Now in common Romany 
we have, even in London, 

Rom A gypsy. 

Romni .... A gypsy \vifo. 

Romnipen . . . Gypsydoin. 



THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 335 

Of this, word rom I shall have more to say. It may 
be observed that there sire in th- Indian Dom certain 
distinctly-marked and degrading features, character- 
istic of the European gypsy, which are out of keep- 
ing with the habits of warriors, and of a daring Aryan 
race which withstood the caliphs. Grubbing in filth 
as if by instinct, handling corpses, making baskets, 
eating carrion, being given to drunkenness, does not 
agree with anything we can learn of the Jats. Yet 
the European gypsies are all this, and at the same 
time " horsey " like the Jats. Is it not extremely 
probable that during the " out- wandering " the Dora 
communicated his name and habits to his fellow-emi- 
grants? 

The marked musical talent characteristic of the 
Slavonian and other European gypsies appears to link 
them with the Lnri of Persia. These are distinctly 
gypsies ; that is to say, they are wanderers, thieves, 
fortune tellers, and minstrels. The Shah-Nameh of 
Firdusi tells us that about the year 420 A. D. Shankal, 
the Maharajah of India, sent to Behram Gour, a ruler 
of the Sassanian dynasty in Persia, ten thousand min- 
strels, male and female, called Luri. Though lands 
were allotted to them, with corn and cattle, they be- 
came from the beginning irreclaimable vagabonds. 
Of their descendants, as they now exist, Sir Henry 
Pottinger says : 

" They bear a marked affinity to the gypsies of 
Europe. 1 They speak a dialect peculiar to them- 
selves, have a king to each troupe, and are notorious 
for kidnapping and pilfering. Their principal pas- 
times are drinking, dancing, and music. . . . They 
are invariably attended by half a dozen of bears and 

1 Travels in Beloochistan afd Sdnde, p. 153. 



336 THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 

monkeys that are broke in to perform all manner of 
grotesque tricks. In each company there are always 
two or three members who profess . . . modes of 
divining, which procure them a ready admission into 
every society." 

This account, especially with the mention of trained 
bears and monkeys, identifies them with the Ricinari, 
or bear-leading gypsies of Syria (also called Nuri), 
Turkey, and Roumania. A party of these lately came 
to England. We have seen these Syrian Ricinari in 
Egypt. They are unquestionably gypsies, and it is 
probable that many of them accompanied the early 
migration of Jats and Doms. 

The Nats or Nuts are Indian wanderers, who, as Dr. 
J. Forbes Watson declares, in " The People of India," 
" correspond to the European gypsy tribes," and were 
in their origin probably identical with the Luri. They 
are musicians, dancers, conjurers, acrobats, fortune- 
tellers, blacksmiths, robbers, and dwellers in tents. 
They eat everything, except garlic. There are also 
in India the Banjari, who are spoken of by travelers 
as "gypsies." They are traveling merchants or ped- 
dlers. Among all these wanderers there is a current 
slang of the roads, as in England. This slang expends 
even into Persia. Each tribe lias its own, but the 
name for the generally spoken lhi<iu<( ft-nnaa is Rom. 

It has never been pointed out, however, by any 
writer, that there is in Northern and Central India a 
distinct tribe, which is regarded, even by the Nats 
and Doms and Jats themselves, as peculiarly and dis- 
tinctly gypsy. There are, however, such wanderers, 
and the manner in which I became aware of their 
existence was, to say the least, remarkable. I was 
one day along the Marylebone Road when I 



THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 337 

met a very dark man, poorly clad, whom I took for a 
gypsy ; and no wonder, as his eyes had the very ex- 
pression of the purest blood of the oldest families. 
To him I said, 

" Rakessa tu Romanes ? " (Can you talk gypsy ?) 

"I know what you mean," he answered in English. 
"You ask me if I can talk gypsy. I know what 
those people are. But I 'm a Mahometan Hindu 
from Calcutta. I get my living by making curry 
powder. Here is my card." Saying this he handed 
me a piece of paper, with his name written on it : 
John Nano. 

" When I say to you, ' Rakessa tu Romanes ? ' what 
does it mean ?" 

" It means, ' Can you talk Rom ? ' But rakessa is 
not a Hindu word. It 's Panjabl." 

I met John Nano several times afterwards and 
visited him in his lodgings, and had him carefully 
examined and cross-questioned and pumped by Pro- 
fessor Palmer of Cambridge, who is proficient in East- 
ern tongues. He conversed with John in Hindustani, 
and the result of our examination was that John de- 
clared he had" in his youth lived a very loose life, 
and belonged to a tribe of wanderers who were to 
all the other wanderers on the roads in India what 
regular gypsies are to the English Gorgio hawkers 
and tramps. These people were, he declared, " the 
real gypsies of India, and just like the gypsies here. 
People in India called them Trablus, which means 
Syrians, but they were full-blood Hindus, and not 
Syrians." And here I may observe that this word 
Trablus which is thus applied to Syria, is derived 
from Tripoli. John was very sure that his gypsies 
were Indian. They had a peculiar language, consist- 



338 THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 

ing of words which were not generally intelligible. 
"Could he remember any of these words?" Yes. 
One of them was manro^ which meant bread. Now 
manro is all over Europe the gypsy word for bread. 
John Nano, who spoke several tongues, said that 
he did not know it in any Indian dialect except in 
that of his gypsies. These gypsies called themselves 
and their language Rom. Rom meant in India a 
real gypsy. And Rom was the general slang of the 
road, and it came from the Rorns or Trablus. Once 
he had written all his autobiography in a book. This 
is generally done by intelligent Mahometans. This 
manuscript had unfortunately been burned by his 
English wife, who told us that she hud done so " be- 
cause she was tired of seeing a book lying about 
which she could not read." 

Reader, think of losing such a life I The autobi- 
ography of an Indian gypsy, an abyss of adventure 
and darksome mysteries, illuminated, it may be, with 
vivid flashes of Dacoitee, while in the distance rum- 
bled the thunder of Thuggism ! Lost, lost, irrepara- 
bly lost forever! And in this book John had embod- 
ied a vocabulary of the real Indian Romany dialect. 
Nothing was wanting to complete our woe. John 
thought at first that he had lent it to a friend who 
had never returned it. But his wife remembered 
burning it. Of one thing John was positive: Rom 
was as distinctively gypsy talk in India as in Eng- 
land, and the Trablus are the true Romanys of India. 

What here suggests itself is, how these Indian gyp- 
sies came to be called Syrian. The gypsies which 
roam over Syria arc evidently of Indian origin ; their 
language and physiognomy both declare it plainly. 
I offer as an hypothesis that bands of gypsies whc 



THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 339 

have roamed from India to Syria have, after returning, 
been called Trablus, or Syrians, just as I have known 
Germans, after returning from the father-land to 
America, to be called Americans. One thing, how- 
ever, is at least certain. The Rom are the very 
gypsies of gypsies in India. They are thieves, fortune- 
tellers, and vagrants. But whether they have or had 
any connection with the migration to the West we 
cannot establish. Their language and their name 
would seem to indicate it ; but then it must be borne 
in mind that the word rom, like dom, is one of wide dis- 
semination, dum being a Syrian gypsy word for the 
race. And the very great majority of even English 
gypsy words are Hindi, with an admixture of Persian, 
and do not belong to a slang of any kind. As in In- 
dia, churi is a knife, nak the nose, balia hairs, and so 
on, with others which would be among the first to be 
furnished with slang equivalents. And yet these 
very gypsies are Rom, and the wife is a Romni, and 
they use words which are not Hindu in common with 
European gypsies. It is therefore not improbable 
that in these Trablus, so called through popular 
ignorance, as they are called Tartars in Egypt and 
Germany, we have a portion at least of the real stock. 
It is to be desired that some resident in India would 
investigate the Trablus. It will probably be found 
that they are Hindus who have roamed from India 
to Syria and back again, here and there, until they 
are regarded as foreigners in both countries. 

Next to the word rom itself, the most interesting 
in Romany is zingan, or tchenkan, which is used in 
twenty or thirty different forms by the people of 
every country, except England, to indicate the gypsy. 
An incredible amount of far-fetched erudition has 



340 THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSU 

been wasted in pursuing this philological ignis fatuus. 
That there are leather-working and saddle-working 
gypsies in Persia who call themselves Zingan is a fair 
basis for an origin of the word ; but then there are 
Tchangar gypsies of Jat affinity in the Punjab. Won- 
derful it is that in this war of words no philologist 
has paid any attention to what the gypsies themselves 
say about it. What they do say is sufficiently inter- 
esting, as it is told in the form of a legend which is 
intrinsically curious and probably ancient. It is given 
as follows in " The People of Turkey," by a Con- 
sul's Daughter and Wife, edited by Mr. Stanley Lane 
Poole, London, 1878 : " Although the gypsies are not 
persecuted in Turkey, the antipathy and disdain felt 
for them evinces itself in many ways, and appears to 
be founded upon a strange legend current in the coun- 
try. This legend says that when the gypsy nation 
were driven out of their country (India), and arrived 
at Mekran, they constructed a wonderful machine to 
which a wheel was attached." From the context of 
this imperfectly told story, it would appear as if the 
gypsies could not travel farther until this wheel 
should revolve : 

"Nobody appeared to be able to turn it, till in the 
midst of their vain efforts some evil spirit presented 
himself under the disguise of a sago, and informed 
the chief, whose name was Chen, that the wheel 
would bo made to turn only when he had married his 
sister Guin. The chief accepted the advice, tho wheel 
turned round, and the name of the tribe after this 
incident became that of the combined names of the 
brother and sister, Chonguin, the appellation of all 
tho ^yp.-ies <>f Turkey at the present day/' 

The legend goes on to state that in consequence ol 



THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 341 

fchis unnatural marriage the gypsies were cursed and 
condemned by a Mahometan saint to wander forever 
on the face of the earth. The real meaning of the 
myth for myth it is is very apparent. Chen is a 
Romany word, generally pronounced chone, meaning 
the moon ; l while gwin is almost universally given as 
gan or lean. That is to say, Chen-gan or -kan, or 
Zin-kan, is much commoner than Chen-guin. Now 
kan is a common gypsy word for the sun. George 
Borrow gives it as such, and I myself have heard 
Romanys call the sun Jean, though kam is commoner, 
and is usually assumed to be right. Chen-kan means, 
therefore, moon-sun. And it may be remarked in 
this connection, that the neighboring Roumanian gyp- 
sies, who are nearly allied to the Turkish, have a 
wild legend stating that the sun was a youth who, 
having fallen in love with his own sister, was con- 
demned as the sun to wander forever in pursuit of 
her, after she was turned into the moon. A similar 
legend exists in Greenland 2 and in the island of 
Borneo, and it was known to the old Irish. It is in 
fact a spontaneous myth, or one of the kind which 
grow up from causes common to all races. It would 
be natural, to any imaginative savage, to regard the 
sun and moon as brother and sister. The next step 
would be to think of the one as regularly pursuing 
the other over the heavens, and to this chase an erotic 
gause would naturally be assigned. And as the pur- 
Euit is interminable, the pursuer never attaining his 
aim, it would be in time regarded as a penance. 
Hence it comes that in the most distant and differ- 

1 English gypsies also call the moon shul and shone. 

2 Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo, by Dr. Henry Kink. London, 
1875, p. 236. 



842 THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 

ent lands we have the same old story of the brother 
and the sister, just as the Wild Hunter pursues his 
bride. 

It was very natural that the gypsies, observing that 
the sun and moon were always apparently wandering, 
should have identified their own nomadic life with 
that of these luminaries. That they have a tendency 
to assimilate the idea of a wanderer and pilgrim to 
that of the Romany, or to Romanipen, is shown by 
the assertion once made to me by an English gypsy 
that his people regarded Christ as one of themselves, 
because he was always poor, and went wandering 
about on a donkey, and was persecuted by the Gor- 
gios. It may be very rationally objected by those to 
whom the term " solar myth " is as a red rag, that 
the story, to prove anything, must first be proved 
itself. Tliis will probably not be far to seek. Ev- 
erything about it indicates an Indian origin, and if it 
can be found among any of the wanderers in India, 
it may well be accepted as the possible origin of the 
greatly disputed word zingan. It is quite as plausible 
as Dr. Miklosich's very far-fetched derivation from 
the Acingani, 'Aro-tyavoi, an unclean, heretical 
Christian sect, who dwelt in Phrygia and Lycaonia 
from the seventh till the eleventh century. The 
mention of Mekran indicates clearly that the moon 
Btory came from India before the Romany could have 
obtained any Greek name. And if gypsies call them- 
selves or are called Jen-gan, or Chenkan, or Zingan, 
in the East, especially if they were so called by 
IVrsian poets, it is extremely unlikely that they ever 
received such a name from the, (iorgios of Europe. It 
is really extraordinary that all the philologists who 
have toiled to derive the word zingan from a Greek 



THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 3 3 

or Western source have never reflected that if it was 
applied to the race at an early time in India or Per- 
sia all their speculations must fall to the ground. 

One last word of John Nano, who was so called 
from two similar Indian words, meaning "the pet of 
his grandfather." I have in my possession a strange 
Hindu knife, with an enormously broad blade, per- 
haps five or six inches broad towards the end, with a 
long handle richly mounted in the purest bronze 
with a little silver. I never could ascertain till 1 
knew him what it had been used for. Even the old 
ex-king of Oude, when he examined it, went wrong 
on it. Not so John Nano. 

" I know well enough what that knife is. I have 
seen it before, years ago. It is very old, and it was 
long in use ; it was the knife used by the public ex- 
ecutioner in Bhotan. It is Bhotanl." 

By the knife hangs the ivory-handled court-dagger 
which belonged to Francis II. of France, the first 
husband of Mary Queen of Scots. I wonder which 
could tell the strangest story of the past ! 

" It has cut off many a head," said John Nano , 
" and I have seen it before ! " 

I do not think that I have gone too far in attaching 
importance to the gypsy legend of the origin of the 
word chen-Jcan or zing an. It is their own, and 
therefore entitled to preference over the theories of 
mere scholars; it is Indian and ancient, and there 
is much to confirm it. When I read the substance of 
this chapter before the Philological Society of Lon- 
don, Prince Lucien Bonaparte, who is beyond ques- 
tion a great philologist, and one distinguished for 
vast research, who was in the chair, seemed, in his 
fiomments on my paper, to consider this sun and 



344 THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 

moon legend as frivolous. And it is true enough 
that German symbolizers have given us the sun myth 
to such an extent that the mere mention of it in 
philology causes a recoil. Then, again, there is the 
law of humanity that the pioneer, the gatherer of 
raw material, who is seldom collector and critic to- 
gether, is always assailed. Columbus always gets 
the chains and Amerigo Vespucci the glory. But 
the legend itself is undeniably of the gypsies and 
Indian. 

It is remarkable that there are certain catch-words, 
or test- words, among old gypsies with which they try 
new acquaintances. One of these is kekkdvi, a kettle ; 
another, chinamangrl> a bill-hook, or chopper (also a 
letter), for which there is also another word. But I 
have found several very deep mothers in sorcery who 
have given me the word for sun, kam, as a precious 
secret, but little known. Now the word really is very 
well known, but the mystery attached to it, as to chone 
or shule, the moon, would seem to indicate that at one 
time these words had a peculiar significance. Once 
the darkest-colored English gypsy I ever met, wish- 
ing to sound the depth of my Romany, asked me for 
the words for sun and moon, making more account 
of my knowledge of them than of many more far less 
known. 

As it will interest the readerj I will here give the 
ballad of the sun and the moon, which exists both in 
Romany and Roumani, or Roumanian, in the trans- 
lation which I take from "A Winter in the City of 
Pleasure" (that is Bucharest), by Florence K. Berger, 
a most agreeable book, and one containing two 
chapters on the Tzigane, or gypsies. 



THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 345 



THE SUN AND THE MOON. 

Brother, one day the Sun resolved to marry. Dur* 
ing nine years, drawn by nine fiery horses, he had 
rolled by heaven and earth as fast as the wind or a 
flying arrow. 

But it was in vain that he fatigued his horses. No- 
where could he find a love worthy of him. Nowhere 
in the universe was one who equaled in beauty his 
sister Helen, the beautiful Helen with silver tresses. 

The Sun went to meet her, and thus addressed her: 
"My dear little sister Helen, Helen of the silver 
tresses, let us be betrothed, for we are made for one 
another. 

" We are alike not only in our hair and our feat- 
ures, but also in our beauty. I have locks of gold, 
and thou hast locks of silver. My face is shining and 
splendid, and thine is soft and radiant." 

" O my brother, light of the world, thou who art 
pure of all stain, one has never seen a brother and 
sister married together, because it would be a shame- 
ful sin." 

At this rebuke the Sun hid himself, and mounted 
up higher to the throne of God, bent before Him, and 
spoke : 

" Lord our Father, the time has arrived for me to 
wed. But, alas ! I cannot find a love in the world 
worthy of me except the beautiful Helen, Helen of 
rhe silver hair ! " 

God heard him, and, taking him by the hand, led 
him into hell to affright Lis heart, and then into 
paradise to enchant his soul. 

Then He spake to him, and while He was speaking 



346 THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 

the Sun began to shine brightly and the clouds passed 
over : 

" Radiant Sun ! Thou who art free from all stain, 
tliou bast been through hell and hast entered para- 
dise. Choose between the two." 

The Sun replied, recklessly, " I choose hell, if I 
may have, for a life, Helen, Helen of the shining 
silver hair." 

The Sun descended from the high heaven to his 
sister Helen, and ordered preparation for his wedding. 
He put on her forehead the waving gold chaplet of 
the bride, he put on her head a royal crown, he put 
on her body a transparent robe all embroidered with 
fine pearls, and they all went into the church to- 
gether. 

But woe to him, and woe to her ! During the 
service the lights were extinguished, the bells cracked 
while ringing, the seats turned themselves upside 
down, the tower shook to its base, the priests lost 
their voices, and the sacred robes were torn off their 
backs. 

The bride was convulsed with fear. For suddenly, 
woe to her! an invisible hand grasped her up, and, 
having borne her on high, threw her into the sea, 
where she was at once changed into a beautiful silver 
fish. 

The Sun grew pale and rose into the heaven. Then 
descending to the west, he plunged into the sea to 
search for his sister Helen, Helen of the shining 
silver hair. 

However, the Lord God (sanctified in heaven and 
upon the earth) took the fish in his hand, cast it 
forth into the sky, and changed it anew into the 
moon. 



THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 347 

Then He spoke. And while God was speaking 
the entire universe trembled, the peaks of the mount- 
ains bowed down, and men shivered with fear. 

" Thou, Helen of the long silver tresses, and tliou 
resplendent Sun, who are both free from all stain, I 
condemn you for eternity to follow each other with 
your eyes through space, without being ever able to 
meet or to reach each other upon the road of heaven. 
Pursue one another for all time in traveling around 
the skies and lighting up the world." 

Fallen from a high estate by sin, wicked, and there- 
fore wandering : it was with such a story of being 
penitent pilgrims, doomed for a certain space to walk 
the earth, that the gypsies entered Europe from In- 
dia, into Islam and into Christendom, each time modi- 
fying the story to suit the religion of the country 
which they invaded. Now I think that this sun, and 
moon legend is far from being frivolous, and that it 
conforms wonderfully well with the famous story 
which they told to the Emperor Sigismund and the 
Pope and all Europe, that they were destined to 
wander because they had sinned. When they first 
entered Europe, the gypsies were full of these leg- 
ends ; they told them to everybody ; but they had 
previously told them to themselves in the form of 
the Indian sun and moon story. This was the root 
whence other stories grew. As the tale of the Wan- 
dering Jew typifies the Hebrew, so does this of the 
sun and moon the Romany. 



A GYPSY MAGIC SPELL. 



THERE is a meaningless rhyme, very common 
among children. It is repeated while counting off 
those who are taking part in a game, and allotting to 
each a place. It is as follows : 

" Ekkeri akkery u-kery an 
Fillisi', follasy, Nicolas John 
Queebee-quabee Irishman. 
Stingle 'era stangle 'em buck ! " 

With a very little alteration in sounds, and not more 
than children make of these verses in different places, 
this may be read as follows : 

" 'Ekkeri, akai-ri, you kair an. 
Filissin follasy. Nakelas ja'n. 
Kivi, kavi. Irishman. 
Stini stani buck ! " 

This is nonsense, of course, but it is Romany, or 
gypsy, and may be translated : 

" First here you begin. 
Castle gloves. You don't play. Go on I 
Kivi kettle. How are you ? 
Stini buck buck." 

The common version of the rhyme begins with . 

" One 'eri two-ery, e'kkeri an." 

But one-ry is the exact translation of e'kkeri ; ek or 
yek being one. And it is remarkable that in 



A GYPSY MAGIC SPELL. 349 

" Hickory dickory dock, 
The rat ran up the clock ; 
The clock struck one, 
And down he run, 
Hickory dickory dock." 

We have hickory or ekkeri again, followed by a 
significant one. It may be observed that while, the 
first verses abound in Romany words, I can find no 
trace of any in other child-rhymes of the kind. It is 
also clear that if we take from the fourth line the 
ingle 'em, angle 'em, evidently added for mere jingle, 
there remains stem or stani, "a buck," followed by 
the very same word in English. 

With the mournful examples of Mr. Bellenden 
Kerr's efforts to show that all our old proverbs and 
tavern signs are Dutch, and Sir William Betham's 
Etruscan-Irish, I should be justly regarded as one of 
the too frequent seekers for mystery in moonshine if 
I declared that I positively believed this to be Rom- 
any. Yet it is possible that it contains gypsy words, 
especially u fillissi,' follasy," which mean exactly 
chdteau and gloves, and I think it not improbable 
that it was once a sham charm used by some Romany 
fortune-teller to bewilder Gorgios. Let the reader 
imagine the burnt-sienna wild-cat eyed old sorceress 
performing before a credulous farm-wife and her 
children the great ceremony of hakk'ni pdnki, which 
Mr. Borrow calls hoklcani boro, but for which there is a 
far deeper name, that of the great secret, which 
even my best friends among the Romany tried to con- 
ceal from me. This feat is performed by inducing 
some woman of largely magnified faith to believe that 
there is hidden in her house a magic treasure, which 
can only be m;ide to come to hand by depositing in 
the cellar another treasure, to which it will come by 



350 A GYPSY MAGIC SPELL. 

natural affinity and attraction. " For gold, as you sees, 
my tlcari, draws gold, and so it you tics up all your 
money in a pocket-handkercher and leaves it, you '11 
find it doubled. An' wasn't there the Squire's lady, 
and did n't she draw two hundred old gold guineas 
out of the ground where they 'd laid in a old grave, 
and only one guinea she gave me for all my trouble; 
an' I hope you '11 do better by the poor old gypsy, 
my deari ." 

The gold and all the spoons are tied up, for, as 
the enchantress observes, there may be silver too, 
and she solemnly repeats over it magical rhymes, while 
the children, standing around in awe, listen to every 
word. It is a good subject for a picture. Sometimes 
the windows are closed, and candles give the only 
light. The next day the gypsy comes and sees how 
the charm is working. Could any one look under 
her cloak he might find another bundle precisely 
resembling the one containing the treasure. She 
looks at the precious deposit, repeats her rhyme 
again, and departs, after carefully charging the house- 
wife that the bundle must not be touched or spoken 
of for three weeks. " Every word you tell about it, 
my-deari will be a guinea gone away." Sometimes 
she exacts an oath on the Bible that nothing shall 
be said. 

Back to the farmer's wife never again. After three 
weeks another Extraordinary instance of gross credu- 
lity appears in the country paper, and is perhaps re- 
peated in a colossal London daily, with a reference to 
the absence of the school-master. There is wailing 
and shame in the house, perhaps great suffering, 
for it may be that the savings of years have been 
swept away. The charm has worked. 



A GYPSY MAGIC SPELL. 351 

But the little sharp-eared children remember it and 
sing it, and the more meaningless it is in their ears 
the more mysterious does it sound. And they never 
talk about the bundle, which when opened was found 
to contain only sticks, stones, and rags, without re- 
peating it. So it goes from mouth to mouth, until, 
all mutilated, it passes current for even worse non- 
sense than it was at first. It may be observed, how- 
ever, and the remark will be fully substantiated by 
any one who knows the language, that there is a 
Romany turn to even the roughest corners of these 
rhymes. Kivi, stingli, stangli, are all gypsyish. But, 
as I have already intimated, this does not appear in 
any other nonsense verses of the kind. There is noth- 
ing of it in 

" Intery, mintery, cutery corn " 

or in anything else in Mother Goose. It is alone 
in its sounds and sense, or nonsense. But there is 
not a wanderer of the roads who on hearing it would 
not explain, " Rya, there 's a great deal of Romanes 
in that ere." 

I should also say that the word na-kelas or n-kelas, 
which I here translate differently, was once explained 
to me at some length by a gypsy as signifying "not 
speaking," or "keeping quiet." 

Now the mystery of mysteries of which I have 
spoken in the Romany tongue is this. The hokkani 
boro, or great trick, consists of three parts. Firstly, 
the telling of a fortune, and this is to pen dukkerin or 
pen durkerin. The second part is the conveying away 
of the property, which is to lei dudikabin, or to take 
lightning, possibly connected with the very old Eng- 
lish slang term of lien lightment. There is evidently 
a great confusion of words here. And the third is ta 



852 A GYPSY MAGIC SPELL. 

" chiv o manzin aprS lati" or to put the oath upon 
her, which explains itself. When all the deceived are 
under oath not to utter a word about the trick, the 
gypsy mother has "a safe thing of it." 

The hokkani boro, or great trick, was brought by 
the gypsies from the East. It has been practiced by 
them all over the world, it is still played every day 
somewhere. This chapter was written long ago in 
England. I am now in Philadelphia, and here I read 
in the " Press " of this city that a Mrs. Brown, 
whom I sadly and reluctantly believe is the wife of 
an acquaintance of mine, who walks before the world 
in other names, was arrested for the same old game 
of fortune-telling and persuading a simple dame that 
there was treasure in the house, and all the rest of 
the grand deception. And Mrs. Brown, good old 
Mrs. Brown, went to prison, where she will linger 
until a bribed alderman, or a purchased pardon, or 
some one of the numerous devices by which justice is 
evaded in Pennsylvania, delivers her. 

Yet it is not a good country, on the whole, for 
hokkani boro, since the people here, especially in 
the rural districts, have a rough-and-ready way of in- 
flicting justice which interferes sadly with the profits 
of aldermen and other politicians. Sonic \ . 
in Tennessee, a gypsy woman robbed a farmer by the 
great trick of all ho was worth. Now it is no slander 
to say that the rural folk of Tennessee greatly resem- 
ble Indians in certain respects, and when I saw thou- 
sands of them, during the war, mustered out in Nash- 
ville, I often thought", as I studied their dark brown 
. high cheek hones, and lon^ straight black hair, 
that the American is indeed reverting to the abo- 
riginal type. The Tennessee farmer and his neigh 



A GYPSY MAGIC SPELL. 353 

bors, at any rate, reverted very strongly indeed to 
the original type when robbed by the gypsies, for 
they turned out all together, hunted them down, and, 
having secured the sorceress, burned her alive at the 
stake. And thus in a single crime and its punish- 
ment we have curiously combined a world-old Ori- 
ental offense, an European Middle- Age penalty for 
witchcraft, and the fierce torture of the red Indians. 



SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 



" So good a proficient in one quarter of an hour that I can drink 
with any tinker in his own language during my life." King Henry 
the Fourth. 

ONE summer day, in the year 1876, 1 was returning 
from a long walk in the beautiful country which lies 
around Bath, when, on the road near the town, I met 
with a man who had evidently grown up from child- 
hood into middle age as a beggar and a tramp. I 
have learned by long experience that there is not a 
so-called " traveler " of England or of the world, be 
he beggar, tinker, gypsy, or hawker, from whom some- 
thing cannot be learned, if one only knows how to 
use the test-glasses and proper reagents. Most in- 
quirers are chiefly interested in the morals or im- 
morals of these nomads. My own researches as 
regards them are chiefly philological. Therefore, 
after I had invested twopence in his prospective beer, 
I addressed him in Romany. Of course he knew a 
little of it ; was there ever an old u traveler " who 
did not? 

'' But we are givin' Romanes up very fast, all of 
us is," lie remarked. " It is a gettin' to be too blown. 
Everybody knows some Romanes now. But there 
is a jib that ain't blown," he remarked reflectively. 
" Back slang an' cantin' an' rhymin' is grown vulgar, 



SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 855 

and Italian always ivas the lowest of the lot ; thieves 
kennick is genteel alongside of organ-grinder's lingo, 
you know. Do yon know anythin' of Italian, sir ? " 

" I can rakker it pretty flick " (talk it tolerably), 
was my reply. 

" Well I should never a penned [thought] sitch a 
swell gent as you had been down so low in the slums. 
Now Romanes is genteel. I heard there 's actilly a 
book about Romanes to learn it out of. But as for 
this other jib, its wery hard to talk. It is most all 
Old Irish, and they calls it Shelter." 

This was all that I could learn at that time. It 
did not impress me much, as I supposed that the 
man merely meant Old Irish. A year went by, and 
I found myself at Aberystwith, the beautiful sea- 
town in Wales, with my friend Professor Palmer 
a palmer who has truly been a pilgrim outre-mer, 
even by Galilee's wave, and dwelt as an Arab in the 
desert. One afternoon we were walking together on 
that end of the beach which is the antithesis of the 
old Norman castle ; that is, at the other extremity of 
the town, and by the rocks. And here there was a 
little crowd, chiefly of young ladies, knitting and 
novel-reading in the sun, or watching children play- 
ing on the sand. All at once there was an alarm, 
and the wholo party fled like partridges, skurrying 
along and hiding under the lee of the rocks. For a 
great rock right over our heads was about to be 
blasted. So the professor and I went on and away, 
but as we went we observed an eccentric and most 
miserable figure crouching in a hollow like a little 
cave to avoid the anticipated fulling stones. 

" Dikk o' dovo mush adoi a yavverin lester kokero! '' 
(Look at that man there, hiding himself !) said the 



356 SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 

professor in Romanes. He wished to call attention 
to the grotesque figure without hurting the poor fel- 
low's feelings. 

" Yuv's atrash o' ye laryia" (He is afraid of the 
stones), I replied. 

The man looked up. " I know what you 're say- 
ing, gentlemen. That 's Romany." 

" Jump up, then, and come along with us." 

He followed. We walked from rock to rock, and 
over the sand by the sea, to a secluded nook under a 
cliff. Then, seated around a stone table, we began 
vDur conversation, while the ocean, like an importu- 
nate beggar, surfed and foamed away, rilling up the 
intervals with its mighty roaring language, which 
poets only understand or translate : 

" Thus far, and then no more : " 
Such language speaks the sounding sea 
To the waves upon the shore. 

Our new acquaintance was ragged and disreputa- 
ble. Yet he held in his hand a shilling copy of 
" Helen's Babies," in which were pressed some fern 
leaves. 

" What do you do for a living?" I asked. 

" Shelkin gallopas just now," he replied. 

"And what is that? " 

" Selling ferns. Don't you understand ? That 's 
what we call it in Minklers Thari. That 's tinkers' 
language. I thought as you knew Romanes you 
might understand it. The right name for it is Shelter 
or Shelta." 

Out came our note-books and pencils. So this was 
the Shelter of which I had heard. Ho was promptly 
asked to explain what sort of a language it was. 

44 Well, gentlemen, you must know that I have n<r 



SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 357 

great gift for languages. I never could learn even 
French properly. lean conjugate the verb tre, 
that is all. I'm an ignorant fellow, and very low. 
I 've been kicked out of the lowest slums in White- 
chapel because I was too much of a blackguard for 
'em. But I know rhyming slang. Do you know 
Lord John Russell ? " 

" Well, I know a little of rhyming, but not that." 

" Why, it rhymes to bustle." 

" I see. Bustle is to pick pockets." 

"Yes, or anything like it, such as ringing the 
changes." 

Here the professor was " in his plate." He knows 
perfectly how to ring the changes. It is effected by 
going into a shop, asking for change for a sovereign, 
purchasing some trifling article, then, by ostensibly 
changing your mind as to having the change, so 
bewilder the shopman as to cheat him out of ten 
shillings. It is easily done by one who understands 
it. The professor does not practice this art for the 
lucre of gain, but he understands it in detail. And 
of this he gave such proofs to the tramp that the 
latter was astonished. 

" A tinker would like to have a wife who knows as 
much of that as you do," he remarked. " No woman 
is fit to be a tinker's wife who can't make ten shil- 
lings a day by glantherin. Grlantherin or glad'herin 
is the correct word in Shelter for ringing the changes. 
As for the language, I believe it 's mostly Gaelic, but 
it 's mixed up with Romanes and canting or thieves' 
slang. Once it was the common language of all the 
old tinkers. But of late years the old tinkers' fami- 
lies are mostly broken up, and the language is per- 
ishing." 



358 



SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 



Then he proceeded to give us the words in Shelta, 
or Minklers Thaii. They were as follows : 

Selling ferns. 



Shelkin gallopas, 

Soobli, > 

Soobri, ) 

Bewr, 

Gothlin or goch'thlin, 

Young bewr, 

Durra, or derra, 

Pani, 

Stiff, 

Yack, 

Mush-faker, 

Mithani (mithni), 

Ghesterman (ghesti), 

Needi-mizzler, 

Dhmessy, 

Stall, 

Biyeghin, 



Biyeg th'eenik, 

Crack, 

Monkery, 

Prat, 

1SY<<1 askan, 

Glantherin (glad'herin), 



. Brother, friend a man. 

Woman. 

Child. 

Girl. 

Bread. 

Water (Romany). 

A warrant (common cant). 

A watch (cant, i. e. bull's eye, 

Tack t an eye in Romany). 

Umbrella mender. 

Policeman. 

Magistrate. 

A tramp. 

Cat. 

Go, travel. 

Stealing. 

To steal. 

To steal the thing. 

A stick. 

Country. 

Stop, stay, lodge. 

Lodging. 

Money, swindling. 



This word has a very peculiar pronunciation. 



Sauni or sonni, 
Stn'puck (reepuck), 
Shvpuck lusk, ) 
Luthrum's gothlin, j 
Kurrl) yer pee, 
Pee, 

Borers and jumpers, 
Borers, 



See. 

A harlot. 

Son of a harlot. 

Punch your head or faceu 
Face. 

Tinkers' tools. 
Gimlets. 



SHELTA, THE TINKERS 1 TALK. 359 

Jumpers, Cranks. 

Ogles, Eyes (common slang). 

Nyock, Head. 

Nyock, A penny. 

Odd, Two. 

Midgic, A shilling. 

Nyo(d)ghee, A pound. 

Sai, sy, Sixpence. 

Charrshom, "I 

Cherrshorn, > A crown. 

Tusheroon, ) 

Tre-nyock, Threepence. 

Tn'po-rauniel, A pot of beer. 

hari 'l ' Talk. 

Bug, | 

Can you thari Shelter? Can you bug Shelta ? Can 
you talk tinkers' language ? 

Shelter, shelta, Tinker's slang. 

Larkin, Girl. 

Curious as perhaps indicating an affinity between 
the Hindustani larki, a girl, and the gypsy rakli. 

Snips, Scissors (slang). 

Dingle fakir, A bell-hanger. 

Dunnovans, Potatoes. 

Fay (vulgarly fee), Meat. 

Our informant declared that there are vulgar forma 
of certain words. 

Gladdher, Ring the changes (cheat in 

change). 

"No minkler would have a bewr who couldn't 
gladdher." 

Reesbin, Prison. 

Tre-moon, Three months, a ' drag." 



860 SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 

Rauniel, ) 

Runniel, ) 

Max, Spirits (slang). 

Chiv, Kuife. (Romany, a pointed 

knife, i. e. tongue.) 
Thari, To speak or tell. 

" I tharied the soobri I sonnied him." (I told the 
man I saw him.) 

Mushgraw. 

Our informant did not know whether this word, of 
Romany origin, meant, in Shelta, policeman or mag- 
istrate. 
Scri, scree, To write. 

Our informant suggested scribe as the origin of this 
word. 
Reader, A writ. 

" You 're readered soobri." (You are put in the 
"Police Gazette," friend.) 

Our informant could give only a single specimen 
of the Shelta literature. It was as follows : 

" My name is Barney Mucafee, 

With my borers ami junipers down to my thee (thigh), 
An* it 's forty miles I 've come to kerrb yer pee." 

This vocabulary is, as he declared, an extremely 
imperfect specimen of the language. He did not 
claim to speak it well. In its purity it is not mingled 
with Romany or thieves' slang. Perhaps some stu- 
dent of English dialects may yet succeed in recover- 
ing it all. The pronunciation of many of the words is 
singular, and very different from English or Romany. 

Just as the last word was written down, there came 
up a woman, a female tramp of the most hardened 






SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 361 

kind. It seldom happens that gentlemen sit down in 
familiar friendly converse with vagabonds. When 
they do they are almost always religious people, anx- 
ious to talk with the poor for the good of their souls. 
The talk generally ends with a charitable gift. Such 
was the view (as the vagabond afterwards told us) 
which she took of our party. I also infer that she 
thought we must be very verdant and an easy prey. 
Almost without preliminary greeting she told us that 
she was in great straits, suffering terribly, and 
appealed to the man for confirmation, adding that if 
we would kindly lend her a sovereign it should be 
faithfully repaid in the morning. 

The professor burst out laughing. But the fern- 
collector gazed at her in wrath and amazement. 

" I say, old woman," he cried ; " do you know who 
you're rakkerin [speaking] to? This here gentleman 
is one of the deepest Romany ryes [gypsy gentlemen] 
a-going. And that there one could gladdher you out 
of your eye-teeth." 

She gave one look of dismay, I shall never forget 
that look, and ran away. The witch had chanced 
upon Arbaces. I think that the tramp had been in 
his time a man in better position. He was possibly 
a lawyer's clerk who had fallen into evil ways. He 
spoke English correctly when not addressing the beg- 
gar woman. There was in Aberystwith at the same 
time another fern-seller, an elderly man, as wretched 
and as ragged a creature as I ever met. Yet he 
also spoke English purely, and could give in Latin 
the names of all the plants which he sold. I have al- 
ways supposed that the tinkers' language spoken of 
by Shakespeare was Romany ; but I now incline to 
think it may have been Shelta. 

passed, and " the levis grene " had fallen 



862 SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 

thrice from the trees, and I had crossed the sea and 
was in my native city of Philadelphia. It was a 
great change after eleven years of Europe, during 
ten of which I had " homed," as gypsies say, in Eng- 
land. The houses and the roads were old-new to me ; 
there was something familiar-foreign in the voices 
and ways of those who had been my earliest friends ; 
the very air as it blew hummed tunes which had lost 
tones in them that made me marvel. Yet even here 
I soon found traces of something which is the same 
all the world over, which goes ever on " as of ever," 
and that was the wanderer of the road. Near the city 
are three distinct gypsyries, where in sumrner-time 
the wagon, and the tent may be found ; and ever and 
anon, in my walks about town, I found interesting 
varieties of vagabonds from every part of Europe. 
Italians of the most Bohemian type, who once had 
been like angels, and truly only in this, that their 
visits of old were few and far between, now swarmed 
as fruit dealers and boot-blacks in every lane ; Ger- 
mans were of course at home ; Czechs, or Slavs, sup- 
posed to be Germans, gave unlimited facilities for 
Slavonian practice ; while tinkers, almost unknown in 
1860, had in 1880 become marvelously common, and 
strange to say were nearly all Austrians of different 
kinds. And yet not quite all, and it was lucky for me 
they were not. For one morning, as I went into the 
large garden which lies around the house wherein I 
wone, I heard by the honeysuckle and grape-vine a 
familiar sound, suggest ive of (he road and Roma- 
nys and London, and all that is most traveler-esque. 
It was the tan, tap, lap of a hammer and the clang 
of tin, and 1 knew by the smoke that so gracefully 
curled at the end of the garden a tinker was near. 
And I advanced to him, and as he glanced up and 



SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 363 

greeted, I read in his Irish face long rambles on the 
roads. 

" Good-morning ! " 

" Good-mornin', sorr ! " 

" You 're an old traveler ? " 

"I am, sorr." 

" Can you rakker Romanes ? " 

"I can, sorr! " 

" Pen yer nav." (Tell your name.) 

" Owen , sorr." 

A brief conversation ensued, during which we as- 
certained that we had many friends in common in the 
puro tern or Ould Country. All at once a thought 
struck me, and I exclaimed, 

" Do you know any other languages ? " 

" Yes, sorr : Ould Irish an' Welsh, an' a little 
Gaelic." 

"That 'sail?" 

" Yes, sorr, all av thim." 

44 All but one?" 

" An' what 's that wan, sorr ? " 

"Can you thari shelta, subll?" 

No tinker was ever yet astonished at anything. If 
he could be he would not be a tinker. If the coals 
in his stove were to turn to lumps of gold in a twinkle, 
be would proceed with leisurely action to rake them 
out and prepare them for sale, and never indicate by 
a word or a wink that anything remarkable had oc- 
curred. But Owen the tinker looked steadily at me 
for an instant, as if to see what manner of man I 
might be, and then said, 

" Shelta, is it ? An' I can talk it. An' there 's not 
six min livin' as can talk it as I do." 

" Do you know, I think it 's very remarkable that 
you can talk Shelta." 



864 



SHELTA, TEE TINKERS' TALK. 



"An' begorra, I think it 's very remarkable, sorr, 
that ye should know there is such a language." 

" Will you give me a lesson ? " 

"Troth I will." 

I went into the house and brought out a note-book. 
One of the servants brought me a chair. Owen 
went on soldering a tin dish, and I proceeded to take 
down from him the following list of words in Shelta : 



Theddy, 

Strawn, 

Blyhunka, 

Leicheen, 

Soobli, 

Binny soobli, 

Binny, 

Chimmel, 

Gh'ratha, grata, 

Griffin, or gruffin, 

Respes, 

Gullemnocks, 

Grascot, 

Skoich, or skoi, 

Numpa, 

Gorhead, or godhed, 

Merrih, 

Nyock, 

Graigh, 

Kaine, or kyni, 

Melthog, 

Medthel, 

Gunnels, 

Faihe, or feye*, 

Muogh, 

Miesli, misli, 

Mailyas, or moillhas, 



Fire (theinne. Irish). 
Tin. 
Horse. 
Girl. 

Male, man. 
Boy. 
Small, 
Stick. 
Hat. 
Coat. 
Trousers. 
Shoes. 
Waistcoat. 
Button. 

Sovereign, one pound. 
Money. 
Nose ( ? ). 
Head. 
Hair. 

Ears (Romany, lean), 
Inner shirt. 
Black. 
Potatoes. 

Meat (feoil Gaelic). 
Pig (muck. Irish). 
To go (origin of " mizzle "?) 
Fingers (meirleach, stealera, 
Gaelic). 



SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 



865 



Shaidyog, 

Respun, 

Shoich, 

Alemnoch, 

Raglan, or reglan, 

Goppa, 

Terry, 

Khoi, 

Chimmes (compare chimmel), 

Mailyas, 

Koras, 

Skoihopa, 

Bulla (ull as in gull), 

Than, 

Mush, 

Lyeskeu cherps, 

Loshools, 

Dainoch, 
Chaldroch, 

Bog, 

Masheen, 

Cam bra, 

Laprogh, 

Kaldthog, 

Rumogh, 

Kiena, 

Rawg, 

Gullemnoch, 

An alt, 

Amilken, 

D'erri, 

R'ghoglin (gogh'leen, 



Policeman. 

To steal. 

Water, blood, liquid. 

Milk. 

Hammer. 

Furnace, smith (gobha, a 

smith. Gaelic). 
A heating-iron. 
Pincers. 
Wood or stick. 
Arms. 

Legs (cos, leg. Gaelic). 
Whisky. 
A letter. 
Word, language. 
Umbrella (slang). 
Telling fortunes. 
Flowers (lus, herb or flower ? 

Gaelic). 
To lose. 
Knife {caldock, sharply 

pointed. Gaelic). 
To get. 
Cat. 
Dog. 

Goose, duck. 
Hen. 
Egg. 
House (ken, old gypsy and 

modern cant). 
Wagon. 
Shoes. 

To sweep, to broom. 
To wash. 
Bread. 
To laugh. 



366 SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 

Kriidyin, To stop, stay, sit, lodge, re- 
main. 

Oura, Town. 

Lashool, Nice (lachool Irish). 

Molnni, or moryeni, Good (min, pleasant. Gae- 
lic). 

Moryenni yook, Good man. 

Gyami, Bad (cam. Gaelic). 

Probably the origin of the common canting term 
gammy, bad. 

Ishkimmisk, Drunk (misgeach. Gaelic) 

Koglan, A four-wheeled vehicle. 

Lorch, A two-wheeled vehicle. 

Smuggle, Anvil. 

Granya, Nail. 

Riaglon, Iron. 

Guslmk, Vessel of any kind. 

Tedhi, the'di, Coal ; fuel of any kind. 

Grawder, Solder. 

Tanyok, Halfpenny. 

(Query tani y little, Romany, and nyok, a head.) 

Chlorhin, To hear. 

Sunain, To see. 

Salkaneoch, To taste, take. 

Mailyen, To feel (cumail, to hold 

Gaelic). 

Crowder, String. 

Sobye, (?) ^ 

Mislain, Raining (mizzle ?). 

Goo-ope, guop, Cold. 

Skoichen, Rain. 

Thomyok, Magistrate. 

Shadyog, Police. 

Bladliunk y Prison. 

Bogh, To get 



S HELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 



367 



Salt, 


Arrested, taken. 


Straihmed, 


A year. 


Gotherna, guttema, 


Policeman. 


[A very rare old word.] 




Dyukas, or Jukas, 


Gorgio, Gentile ; one not of 




. the class. 


Misli, 


Coming, to come, to send. 


To my-deal, 


To me. 


Lycliyen, 


People. 


Graii nis, 


Know. 


Skolaia, 


To write. 


Skolaiyami, 


A good scholar. 


Nyok, 


Head. 


Lurk, 


Eye. 


Menoch, 


Nose. 


Glorhoch, 


Ear. 


Koris, 


Feet. 


Tashi shingomai, 


To read the newspaper. 


Gorheid, 


Money. 


Tomgarheid (t. e. big money), 


Gold. 


Skawfer, skawper, 


Silver. 


Tomnumpa, 


Bank-note. 


Terri, 


Coal. 


Ghoi, 


Put. 


Nyadas, 


Table. 


Kradyin, 


Being, lying. 


Tarry in, 


Rope. 


Kor'heh, 


Box. 


Miseli, 


Quick. 


Krad'hyl, 


Slow. 


Th-ruddusk, 


Door. 


Khaihed, 


Chair (khahir. Irish' 


Bord, 


Table. 


Grainyog, 


Window. 


Riimog, 


Effs 

a so 


Aidh, 


Butter. 



868 SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 

Okonneh, A priest. 

Thus explained in a very Irish manner : " Okonneh, 
or Koony, is a sacred man, and kunl in Romany means 
secret. An' sacret and sacred, sure, are all the same," 

Shliema, Smoke, pipe. 

Munches, Tobacco. 

Khadyogs, Stones. 

Yiesk, Fish (iasg. Gaelic). 

Cab, Cabbage. 

Cherpin, Book. 

This appears to be vulgar. Llyower was on second 
thought declared to be the right word. (Leabhar, 
Gaelic.) 

Misli dainoch. To write a letter ; to write ; 

that is, send or go. 

Misli to my bewr, Write to my woman. 

Gritche, Dinner. 

Gruppa, Supper. 

Goihed, To leave, lay down. 

Lurks, Eyes. 

Ainoch, Thing. 

Clisp, To fall, let fall. 

Clishpen, To break by letting fall. 

Guth, gut, Black. 

Gothni, gachlin, Child. 

Styemon, Rat. 

Krepoch, Cat. 

Grannien, With child. 

Loshui* Sweet. 

Shum, To own. 

L'yogh, To lose, 

Crimum, Sheep. 

Khadyog, Stone. 

Nglou, Nail. 



SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 

Gial, Yellow, red. 

Talosk, Weather. 

Laprogh, Bird. 

Madel, Tail. 

Carob, To cut. 

Lubran, luber, To hit. 

Thorn, Violently. 

Mish it thorn, Hit it hard. 

Subli, or soobli, Man (siublach, a vagrant. 

Gaelic). 

There you are, readers ! Make good cheer of it, as 
Panurge said of what was beyond him. For what 
this language really is passeth me and mine. Of 
Celtic origin it surely is, for Owen gave me every 
syllable so garnished with gutturals that I, being 
even less of one of the Celtes than a Chinaman, have 
not succeeded in writing a single word according to 
his pronunciation of it. Thus even Minklers sounds 
more like minkias, or piJcias, as he gave it. 

To the foregoing I add the numerals and a few 
phrases : 

Hain, or heen, One. 

Do, Two. 

Tri, Three. 

Ch'air, or k'hair, Four. 

Good, Five. 

She, or shay, Six. 

Schaacht, or schach', Seven. 

Ocht, Eight. 

Ayen, or nai, Nine. 

Dy'ai, djai, or dai, Ten. 

Hinniadh, Eleven. 

Do yed'h, Twelve. 

Trin yedh, Thirteen. 

K'hair yedh, etc., Fourteen, etc. 

24 



370 SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 

Tat 'th chesin ogorasa, That belongs to me. 

Grannis to my deal, It belongs to me. 

Dioch man krady in in this I am staying here. 

nadas, 

Tash emilesh, He is staying there. 

Boghin the brass, Cooking the food. 

My deal is mislin, I am going. 

The nidias of the kiena, The people of the house 

don't granny what we 're don't know what we 'ro 

a tharyin, saying. 

This was said within hearing of and in reference 
to a bevy of servants, of every hue save white, who 
were in full view in the kitchen, and who were mani- 
festly deeply interested and delighted in our inter- 
view, as well as in the constant use of my note-book, 
and our conference in an unknown tongue, since 
Owen and I spoke frequently in Romany. 

That bhoghd out yer mailya, You let that fall from your 

hand. 

I also obtained a verse of a ballad, which I may not 
literally render into pure English : 

" Cosson kailyah con-urn me morro sari, 
Me gul ogalyach mir ; 
Kahet manent trasha moroch 
Me tu sosti mo dlele." 

" Coming from Galway, tired and weary, 
I met a woman ; 

I '11 go bail by this time to-morrow, 
You '11 have had enough of me." 

Me tu sosti, " Thou shalt be (of) me,", is Romany, 
which is freely used in Shelta. 

The question which I cannot solve is, On which of 
the Celtic languages is this jargon based ? My in- 
formant declares that it is quite independent of Old 



5 HELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 871 

Irish, Welsh, or Gaelic. In pronunciation it appears 
ta be almost identical with the latter; but while there 
are Gaelic words in it, it is certain that much exam- 
ination and inquiry have failed to show that it is con- 
tained in that language. That it is " the talk of the 
ould Picts thim that built the stone houses like bee- 
hives " is, I confess, too conjectural for a philolo- 
gist. I have no doubt that when the Picts were 
suppressed thousands of them must have become 
wandering outlaws, like the Romany, and that their 
language in time became a secret tongue of vagabonds 
on the roads. This is the history of many such lin- 
goes ; but unfortunately Owen's opinion, even if it 
be legendary, will not prove that the Painted People 
spoke the Shelta tongue. I must call attention, how- 
ever, to one or two curious points. I have spoken of 
Shelta as a jargon ; but it is, in fact, a language, for 
it can be spoken grammatically and without using 
English or Romany. And again, there is a corrupt 
method of pronouncing it, according to English, 
while correctly enunciated it is purely Celtic in 
sound. More than this I have naught to say. 

Shelta is perhaps the last Old British dialect as 
yet existing which has thus far remained undiscov- 
ered. There is no hint of it in John Camden Hc*t- 
ten's Slang Dictionary, nor has it been recognized by 
the Dialect Society. Mr. Simson, had he known the 
" Tinklers " better, would have found that not Rom- 
any, but Shelta, was the really secret language which 
they employed, although Romany is also more or less 
familiar to them till. To me. there is in it something 
very weird and strange. I cannot well say why; ifc 
seems as if it might be spoken by witches and talk- 
ing toads, and uttered by the Druid stones, which are 



872 SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 

fabled to come down by moonlight to the water-sid\ 
to drink, and who will, if surprised during their 
walk, answer any questions. Anent which I would 
fain ask my Spiritualist friends one which I have 
long yearned to put. Since you, my dear ghost- 
raisers, can call spirits from the vasty deep of the 
outside-most beyond, will you not having many 
millions from, which to call raise up one of the 
Pictish race, and, having brought it in from the 
Ewiglceit, take down a vocabulary of the language ? 
Let it be a lady par preference, the fair being by 
far the more fluent in words. Moreover, it is prob- 
able that as the Picts were a painted race, woman 
among them must have been very much to the fore, 
and that Madame Rachels occupied a high position 
with rouge, enamels, and other appliances to make 
them young and beautiful forever. According to 
Southey, the British blue-stocking is descended from 
these woad-stained ancestresses, which assertion dimly 
hints at their having been literary. In which case, 
voild noire affaire ! for then the business would be 
promptly done. Wizards of the secret spells, I ad- 
jure ye, raise me a Pictess for the sake of philology 
and the picturesque ! 



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