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HARVARD 
COLLEGE 
LIBRARY 



Preservation facsimile 

printed on alkaline/buffered paper 

and bound by 

Acnne Bookbinding 

Charlestown» Massachusetts 

2003 



i^ai'barli CToUcge itbravg 

JOHN AMORY LOWELL, 

(Claw of iSIE). 
Ix added to the princip.ll. 



THE GYPSIES 



CHARLES G. LELAND 




SOSTON 
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 



QDit Si)itT£ttre ]p>ruK, Cambrtttffc 



•^ 3 : - ? - , 



■t tr H. O. Ho^Mca A Oh 




PREFACE. 



The reader will find in this book sketclieB 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 mnsical 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 
n^an ; 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 chai*acteristio 
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 
these papers, subsequently combined in an article in 
the " Saturday Review," that I have definitely deter- 
mined the existence in India of a peculiar tribe of 
gypsies, who are par eminence the Romanys of the 
East, 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 
himself in India, bearring 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 
reason be regarded as settling the immensely dis- 
puted origin of the word " Zingan," by the gypsies* 
own 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. Roebuck, and others, on 
gypsies; an account of the first and family names 
and personal characteristics of English and American 
Romanys, prepared for me by a very famous old 
gypsy; and finally a chapter on the "Shelta Thari," 
or Tinkers' Language, a vei'y curious jargon or lan- 
guage, never mentioned before by any writer except 
Shakespeare. What this tongue may be, beyond the 



PREFACE. V 

fact that it is purely Celtic, and tbat 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 
Laugnage," 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 eveiything 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 shoidd thus 
remain hidden in the brain of one who had never at 
any time or in any other way manifested the posses- 
sion of any 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 Trablfts, 
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 
doors5 it is not remarkable that we should be igno- 
rant of those of India. 



CONTENTS. 

I 

FiRge 

Introduotiok 9 

BussiAN Gypsies 17 

AnsTBiAH Gypsies. 1 67 

XL Austrian Gypsies in Philadelphia ... 91 
English Gypsies. 

L OatlandsPark 97 

IL Walking and Visiting 119 

m. CobhamFair ISO 

IV. The Mixed Fortunes 145 

V. Hampton Races 152 

YI. Street Sketches 161 

I Vn. Of Certain Gentlemen and Gypsies . . .172 
.Welsh Gypsies. 

I. Mat Woods the Fiddler 189 

U. The Pious Washerwoman 198 

in. The Gypsies at Aberystwith .... 207 
Akebigah Gypsies. 

L Gypsies in t^hiladelphia 227 

IL- The Crocus-Pitcher 241 

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

IV. House Gypsies in Philadelphia . . . .• 260 

V. A Gypsy Letter 272 



• •• 



viii CONTENTS. 

Fftge 

Gtpbieb in thb East 288 

Gtpst Kameb and Family Characteristiob . . 304 

GTFsr Stobibb in Hoxant, with Tbanblation . . 312 

Thb Obioin of thb Gtpbibb 331 

A Grpsr Maoio Spell 348 

Shelta, the Tinkebb' Talk 854 



INTRODUCTION. 



I HAVB 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 afidon^ or affection, or ^^ fancy ; " he is 
an aficionado^.ov 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, cd 
pa$ar 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 Uena 
De la luz de esos luceros.*' 

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

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 church towers afar, rising over fringes of for- 
est, a riyer and a bridge in the foreground, and an 
ancient 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 pai*t but 
the whole. These are the gypsies, who live like the 
birds and hares, not of the house-bom 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 Ilfracombe, 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 
stafl! and sketch-book, and set out on my day's pil- 
igrimage. In the distance lie the lines of the shining 
sea, with ships sailing to unknown lands. Those who 
live in them 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 these 
ships far off and out at sea with the sun upon their 
sails, 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 
the wild birds on the wing, wonding their way to 
the South, and wish that you could fly with them, 
— anywhere, anywhere over the world and into ad- 
venture, — then you are not far in spirit from the 



INTRODUCTION. 11 

kingdom of Bohemia and its Reven castles, in the 
deep windows of which ^oliau 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 I " 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 
hcvmble folk, but with nature and summer walks they 
jnake 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 
famUy always roaming between Windsor and Lon- 
don, and the first words taught to their youngest child 
were ^^ Romany rye I " 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 mother and father and all the little tribe. To 
be familiar with these wanderers, who live by dale 
and down, is like having the bees come to you, as 
they 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 
has made their friends, and who handle them with- 
out fear. They ai'e 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 
for 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- 
doors is as perfect 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 
strangers. And just as strange to them, in one sense, 
are the scenes in which these creatures dwell ; for 
those 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- 
felt by Mr. Gimabue Brown. The child and the 
gypsy have no words in which to express their sense 
of nature and its charm, but they have this sense, 
and there are very, very few who, acquiring culture, 
retain it. And it is gradually disappearing from the 
world, just as the old delicately sensuous, naive, pic- 



INTROVUCTION^ 18 

turesque type of woman's beauty — the perfection of 
natural beauty — is rapidly yanisbing 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 GhampoUions 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 moon 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 Gallot'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 mediasval drama, colored and gemmed 



14 INTRODUCTION. 

with chivaliy, minuesong, bandit-flashes, and waving 
plumes ; now there remain but a few tatters. Yes, 
we were 3'oung and foolish, then, but there are per- 
ishing with the wretched fragments of the red Indian 
tribes mythologies as beautiful as those of the Greek 
or Norseman ; and there is also vanishing with the 
gypsy an unexpressed mythology, which those who 
are to come after us would gladly recover. Would 
we not have been pleased if one of thethousand Latin 
men of letters whose works have been preserved had 
told us how the old Etruscans, then still living in 
mountain villages, spoke and habited and customed ? 
But oh that there had ever lived of old one man who, 
noting how feelings and sentiments changed, tried to 
so set forth the souls of his time that after-comers 
might understand what it was which inspired their 
art! 

In the Sanskrit humorous romance of " Baital Pa- 
chisi," or King Vikram and the Vampire, twenty-five 
different and disconnected trifling stories sei've col- 
lectively to illustrate in the most pointed manner the 
, highest lesson of wisdom. In this book the gypsies, 
and the scenes which surround them, are intended to 
teach the lesson of freedom and nature. Never were 
such lessons more needed than at present. I do not 
say that culture is opposed to the perception of nat- 
ure; I would show with all my power that the 
higher our culture the more we are really qualified 
to appreciate beauty and freedom. But gates must 
be opened for this, and unfortunately the gates as 
yet are very few, while Philistmism in every form 
makes it a business of closing every opening to the 
true fairy-land of delight. 

The gypsy is one of many links which connect the 



INTRODUCTION. 15 

simple feeling of nature with romance. Daring 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 green ; 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 coming 
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. yeUow-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. 

is all right, aud so it must be, and therewith hagta ! 
Bat as a London reviewer said when I asserted in 
a book that the child was perhaps bom who would 
see the last gypsy, *^ 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, and, 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 f rs^- 

8 



18 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES, 

ments of leather from ancient Irish graves, or in cloth 
from Lacustrine villages. She glitters with the quaint 
jewelry of the first Italian race, whose ghosts, if they 
wail over the " find," " speak in a language man 
knows no more." She charms us with etchings or 
scratchings of mammoths on mammoth-bone, and in- 
vites us to explore mysterious caves, to picnic among 
megaUthic 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 
among others, and yet reserved unto themselves. 
These are the Jew and the gypsy. From time 
whereof history hath naught to the contrary, the 
Jew was> as he himself holds in simple faith, the first 
man. Red Earth, Adam, was a Jew, and the old 
claim to be a peculiar people has been curiously con- 
firmed by the extraordinary genius and influence of 
the race, and by their boundless wanderings. Go 
where we may, we find the Jew — has any other 
wandered so far ? 

Yes, one. For wherever Jew has gone, there, too, 
we find the gypsy. The Jew may be more ancient, 
but even the authentic origin of the Romany is lost in 
ancient Aryan 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 yast mul- 
titude of very troublesome indwellers. What with 
Buddhist, Brahman, and Mohammedan wars, — in- 
vaders outlawing invaded, — the number of ont-castea 
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,^ the 
emigrants to the West probably derived their name 
and several characteristics. The Dom burns the 
deiad, 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 

^ !From the obserYations of Frederic Drew (The Northern Barrier 
of India, London, 1877) there can be little doabt that the Dom, or 
Dtim, belong to the pre-Aijan race or races of India. " They are 
described in the Shastras as Sopukh, or Dog-Eaters" {Tjfpes ^ In* 
dia). I have somewhere met with the statement that the Dom was 
pre-Aryan, but allowed to rank as Hindoo on account of senrioes ren- 
dered to the early conqnerors. 



20 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

of the present day also sells baskets, and wanders 
with a tent ; he is altogether gypsy. It is remark^ 
able that he, living in a hot climate, drinks ardent 
spirits to excess, 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 
have often seen a gypsy woman, nearly a hundred 
years old, whose curling hair is black, of hardly per- 
ceptibly 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 
Domni, and being a Dom is '^ Domnipana." In Eng- 
lish gypsy, the same words are expressed by Hom^ 
romniy and romnipen, D, be it observed, very often 
changes to r in its transfer from Hindoo to Romany. 
Thus doi^ " a wooden spoon," becomes in gypsy roi, 
a term known to every tinker in London. But, 
while this was probably the origin of the word Rom, 
there were subsequent reasons for its continuance. 
Among the Gophts, who were more abundant in 
Egjrpt when the first gypsies went there, the word 
for man is romiy and after leaving Greece and the 
Levant, or JRum^ it would be natural for the wander- 
ers to be called Rumi. But the Dom was in all prob- 
ability the parent stock of the gypsy race, though 
the latter received vast accessions from many other 
sources. I call attention to this, since it has always 
been held, and sensibly enough, that the mere fact 
of the gypsies speaking Hindi-Persian, or the oldest 
type of Urdu, including many Sanskrit terms, does 
not prove an Indian or Aryan origin, any more than 
the English spoken by American negroes proves a 
Saxon descent. But if the Rom can be identified 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 21 

with the Dom — and the circamstantial evidence, it 
must be admitted, is yery strong — but little remains 
to seek, since, according to the Shastras, the Doms 
are Hindoo. 

Among the tribes whose union formed the Euro- 
pean gjp8y was, in all probability, that of the NatSy 
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, im- 
der the name of Luriy 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, etc4, by which gypsies are known in so many 
lands. From Mr. Arnold's late work on "Persia," 
the reader may learn that the JSeli^ 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 Pei-sian 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, he gave me its correct 
meaning, after a little thought, and then added, in 
his imperfect English, ^^ What for you want to know 



22 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

such word? — that old word — that no more used. 
Only common people — old peasantrwoman — use 
that word — gentleman no want to know him." Bat 
I did want to know " him " very much. I can re- 
member that one night, when our bon prince had thus 
held forth, wq 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 heautS du diable 
were not Egyptian, but of the Indian, kaliHratt^ — 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, ^^ Boro pappin.*^ 

** No, rya. JBa^o pappin is * a big goose.' SdhkH 
is the real gypsy*srord. It is very old, and very few 
Romany know it." 

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

" S&kk6 — one ver' big bird, like one Bwen — but 
he not swen. He like the man who carry too much 
water up-stairs^ his head in Constantinople. That 

^ Up-Rtaira in ibis gentleman's dialect signified up or upon, like top- 
fide 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." 

TMs was explanatory, bat far from satisfactory^ 
The prince, however, was mindfal of me, and the 
next day I received from the Persian embassy the 
word elegantly written in Pei'sian, 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 juckaly from a jackal, and a swan 
sdkkiij or pelican, because it so greatly resembles it. 
The Hindoo bandarua^ or monkey, they have changed 
to bombaroSj bat why Tom Cooper should declare that 
it is pugasah^ or pukkuB-asa^ I do not know.^ As 
little can I conjecture the meaning of the prefix modj 
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, Dor^, 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, 

^ Puccasa, Sanskrit. Low, inferior. Given hy Pliny E. Chase in his 
Sanskrit Analogues as the root-word for seyeral inferior animals. 



24 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

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

" KdmlOj — Lovel, you know." ^ 

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

Now Katsamengro means scissors-master. 

" That is a very good word. But cTdv6 is deeper." 

^* Chivd means a knife-man ? " 

^^ Yes. But the deepest of all, master, is Modr 
angarSngro, For you see that the right word for 
coals is n't wongur^ as Romanys generally say, but 
Angdray 

Now angdra^ as Pott and Benfey indicate, is pure 
Sanskrit for coals, and angarSngro 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 
country were men of different castes and different 
color, vaiying from the pure northern invader to 
the negro-like southern Indian. In the Danubian 
principalities there are at the present day three 
kinds of gypsies : one very dark and barbarous, an- 
other light brown and more intelligent, and the third, 
or Slite^ of yellow-pine complexion, as American boys 
characterize the hue of quadroons. Even in Eng- 
land there are straight-haired and curly-haired Rom- 
anys, the two indicating not a difference resulting 
from white admixture, but entirely different original 
stocks. 

It will, I trust, be 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. 26 

curioiis. It deals with the only race except the Jew, 
which has penetrated into every village which Euro- 
pean civilization has ever toached. 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. PBTEBSBUBG. 

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 thiat there 
exist communities of gentlemanly and lady-like gyp- 



26 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

sies of art, like the Bohemians of Murger and George 
Sand, but differing from them in being real *^ 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 mannera, 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 cagSts. I had heard there were gyp- 
sies in Russian cities, and expected to find them like 
the kSrengri of England or Germany, — house-dwellers 
somewhat reformed from vagabondage, but still reck- 
less semi-outlaws, full of tricks and lies ; in a word, 
ffypsieSy as the world understands the term. And I 
certainly anticipated in Russia something qtieer, — the 
gentleman who speaks Romany seldom fails to achieve 
at least that, whenever he gets into an unbroken 
haunt, an unhunted forest, where the Romany rye 
is unknown, — but nothing like what I really found. 
A recent writer on Russia ^ speaks with great con- 
tempt of these musical Romanys, their girls at- 
tired in dresses by Worth, as compared with the free 
wild outlaws of the steppes, who, with dark, ineffable 
glances, meaning nothing more than a wild-cat's, 
steal poultry, and who, wrapped in dirty sheep-skins, 
proudly call| themselves Mi dvorane Polaivii^ Lords 
of the Waste. The gypsies of Moscow, who ap- 
peared to me the most interesting I have ever met, 
because most remote from the Surrey ideal, seemed 
to Mr. Johnstone to be a kind of second-rate Rom- 

1 A Trip up the Volga to the Fair of Nijni-Novgorod. By H. A. 
Manib Batler Johnstone. 1875. 



TEE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 27 

anys or gypsies, gypsified for exhibition, like Mr. 
Bamum'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 compares 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 be and 
his men, not having moved, were extended in*' stark, 
serried lines" (''ten cart-loads of dead niters," 
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," be say6^ "are-jn^fy 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. 

inqairies was for gypsies. To my astonishinent, 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 woald be to go at night to certain 
axfSs^i half an hoar'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 tliat, 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," he 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 yon. It ia 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, 
generally asked me, about the third day after their 
arrival in the country, the meaning of the Pidgin- 
English phrase, * 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 loye, and me kamdva tut is 
perfectly good gypsy anywhere for ' I love you ; ' and 
a very soft expression it is, recalling kama-devay 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. 
' It 's kdma-duvelj you know, rya, if you put it as it 
ought to be,' said Old Windsor Froggie to me once ; 
^ but I think that KamBrdevil 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 cqf^s^ 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 thin^/ 
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 sundiy 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. 

" Well, then, I shall call for you to-morrow night 
with a troika; I will come early, — at ten. They 
never 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 



80 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

in St. PeteTsburg for thirty years, the thermometer 
having stood, or rather having kin down and grov- 
eled that morning at 40^ below zero, Fahr. At the 
appointed hoar the troxka^ or three-horse sleigh, was 
before the Hdtel d*Europe. It was, indeed, an arc- 
tic night, but, well wrapped in fur-lined 9huha9^ 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 xstvo9t8hikt 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^ 
onghly 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 r^arded our turn-out, 
with the driver in his sheep-skin coat, as coming 
within a miracle of resemblance to that of Santa 
Claus, the American Father Christmas. 

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

THE TROIKA. 
Vat y'dit troika vdeUatya. 

Hear je the troikarbell arringing. 

And see the peasant driyer there ? 
Hear je the moamf ul song he 's singing, 

like distant tolling thioogh the air ? 

" eyeS) hlue eyes, to me so lonely, 
O eyes — alas I — ye give me pain ; 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 81 

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

" Farewell, my darling, now in heaven, 
And still the heaven of my sonl ; 
Farewell, thou father town, O Moscow, 
Whera 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 gra^e. 

** Stai ! " — Halt I We stopped at a stylish-look- 
ing building, entered a hall, left our %huba%y and I 
heard the general ask, ^^Are the gypsies here?" 
An aflSrmative 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 : — 

" Latcho diwua prala ! " (Good day, brother.) 

^^ What is that f " he exclaimed, startled. 



82 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

^ TSijineu lateho adoMta,** ( Yoa know yery welL) 
And then, with the expression in his face of a man 
who has been familiarly addressed by a brazen statae, 
or asked by a new-bom babe, ^^ What o'clock is it 7" 
bat with great joy, he cried : — 

*^ Bomanichal ! " 

In an instant they were all aroond me, marreling 
greatly, and earnestly expressing their marvel, at what 
new species of gypsy I might be ; being in this quite 
anlike those of England, who, even when they are 
astonished ^ oat 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- 
b^gg;ing, always-suspecting Romany roughs and rufir 
ana$ as a delicate greyhound might compare with a 
very shrewd old bull-dog, trained by an unusually 
" 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 
as 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 

caltivated ladies, but it is my expeiience 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 pai'ts 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^ ryaT^ (Sit down, sir), — a phrase which 
would be perfectly intelligible to any Romany in 
England. I admit that there was another damsel, 
who is generally regarded by most people as the true 
gypsy belle of the party, who did not sit by me. 

3 



84 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

But, as the one who had ^^ voted herself into the 
chair," by my side, was more to my Uking, 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 Roman ys 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 gi'eeted 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. 

Once, during the evening, these Russian gypsies 
were 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. 86 

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 m England is sus- 
pected of ^' dixonary *' studies, it amounts to lasdate 
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 j/our Bomany out of 
books." 

The siUy 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 scholara, to having the Romany 
language published is indescribable. Vamb^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 with the remark that there are, 
roughly speaking, two kinds of music in the world, 
— the wild and the tame, — and the rarest of human 



86 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

beings is he who can appreciate both. Only one 
such man ever wrote a book, and his nomen et amen 
is Engel, like that of the little English slaves who were 
nan Angli, Bed avgelL 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 morceaux 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 turo-tum of the banjo, 
and which reappears, somewhat refined, or at least 
somewhat Frenchified, in the Bamhotda 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 as yet governs all decorative art, 
and which Mr. Whistler and others are endeavoring 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 87 

desperately to destroy, acts in music as a sort of ani- 
mal magnetism or abstitiction, ending in an eztase. 
As for the fascination which sach 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 
art," but art for direct pleasure. 

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



88 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

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

And I listened to the strangest, wildest, and sweet- 
est singing I ever had heard, — the singing of Lnr- 
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 an*d 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 tbe ha9%o 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-gleam ; 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 
t quickstep, and then a sudden silence — sunlight — 
the storm had blown away. 

Nothing on earth is so like magic and elfin-work 
as when 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 green, throwing out to God or 
the fairies irrepressible floods of what seems like au- 
dible sunshine, so well does it match with summer's 
light, you 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. 89 

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 feeliug that the song was bom 
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 U manner which would have been impossible at 
present. 

Tet 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 
Atm^n^s,'* proceeds, as men in general and women 
in particular invariably do, to give what the writer 



40 THE RaSSIAN GYPSIES. 

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

These himSnet are not — and here soch of my too 
expectant yoaog lady-readers as are tireless 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^oogs. 
" Nothing yon have ever heard in any other country," 
says onr writer, " bears the slightest resemblance to 
Aese wild, exqaisite glees, faaltleas 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 geno- 
ine native words (the meaning of which we had bet- 
ter not inquire), or it may be with a Scriptural story, 
versified and sung to an air originally from Europe, 
but so completely Tahitianized that no mortal could 
rect^nise 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, i-a, ra — n» — ral' 
while othera burst into a flood of ' La, la — la — la — 
\a \ ' 3um6 confine their care to sound a deep, boom- 
ing basa ni a long-continued drone, somewhat sug. 
gestive (to my appreciative Highland ear) of onr 
own bagpipes. Here and there high falsetto notes 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES, 41 

strike in, yaried from yerse to yerse, and then the 
choruses of La and Ra come bubbling in liquid mel- 
ody, while the yoices of the principal singers now 
join in unison, now diyerge 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 himSne ; 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 it9elf) 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 I " 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 
itioment'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. 

preyioiis evening v^ss avee le$ neiges cCantarty with 
the smoke of yesterday's fire, with the perfume and 
bird-songs. " La, la, la — la — la 1 " 

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 ^ has observed! that the Ameri- 
can savage pays attention to every sound that strikes 
upon his ear when the leaves, softly shaken by the 
evening breeze, 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 remiembers." In illustration of this, the mis- 
sionary describes the singing of a Chippewa chief, 
and its wild inspiration, in a Wnner which vividly 
illustrates all music of the clasd of which I write. 

" It was,'* he says, " duridg one of those long 
winter nights, so monotonoi;&/ and so wearisome in 
the woods. We were in a wigwam, which afforded 
us but miserable shelter from the inclemency oi 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, 48 

iug our route. Our host was an Tndian, 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 |iung near his bed, he 
beat a slight rolling, resembling the distant sounds 
of an approaching storm ; then, -jraising his voice to a 
shrill treble^ which he knew hosir 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 produci^ 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 nlore 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. 

vith indescribable pleasure; and I soon found that 
they r^^rded me favorably because I did the same, 
being, of ooin-ee, the onl; Frank on board who paid 
any attention to the singing — or any money for it. 
But it waa 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 I'olling of the drum 
and the strange, bewildering ballads never ceased. 
It was the very counterpart, in all i-espects, of the 
Chippewa storm song. 

After the first gypsy lyric there came another, to 
which the captain especially dii-ectcd my attention 
as being what Sam Petulengro calls " reg'lar Rom- 
any." It was /raWi 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 
seized the performers we were all in a minute " go- 
ing down the rapids in a spring freshet." 

" Bagan tu rya, bagan ! " (Sjng, sir, — sing) cried 
my handsome neighbor, with hiir black gypsy eyes 
sparkling fire. " Jlnea hi bagan tto — eto latcho 
Momanei." (You can sing tljat, — 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 uiiusual pains to please 
the Romany rye from the dur' tem, or far country, 
and they had attained the acme of success by being 
thoroughly delighted with themselves, which ia all 
that can he hoped for in art, where the aim is pleas- 
ure and not criticism. i 



A 



THE RUSSIAN ' GYPSIES, 46 

There vtba a pause in the performance, bnt 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 Sorrow's "Lavengro," and which be- 
gins with these words : — 

"Pende Roman! chai ke laki d/e ; 
' Miri diri dje, mi shorn k&meli.' " 

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 gillL 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, boUo voce^ my pretty friend 
exclaimed to another girl, " Only think, the rye from 
America knows that song I *' 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 akonjro/ gildas yoi, 
Men buti ruzhior, 
Te B&r i chiriclia adoi 
Pen mengy gilior.* " 

Though we ** 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 when 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 them 
appeared in Europe, led by a few men of great dip- 
lomatic skill, who, by crafty dealing, obtained from 
the Pope, the 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 krallia 
(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 infonned me that he 
would like to go " on the road " in America, " be- 
cause you know, sir, as America lays along into 
Frs^nce, 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 aand^ 
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 naive 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 time 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 houra 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 hnndred- 
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 
as 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 

said, ^^ and go out to Petrovka. That is a place in 

4 



60 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

the country, where there are grand cafSs at consider- 
able distances one from the other. Pay the driver 
three rubles for four hours. Enter a caf4^ call for 
something to drink, listen to the gypsies singing, and 
when they pass round a plate put some money in it. 
That 's aU." This was explicit, and at ten o'clock 
in the erening 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 i%t' 
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 difference, — and even they come 
sometimes within three hours' walk of the Kremlin. 
JEt ego inter Ivpos^ — I too have been among wolves 
in my time by night, in Kansas, and thought nothing 
of such rides compared to the one I had when I went 
gypsying 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 shuba^ and I found my way into a 
very large and high hall, brilliantly lighted as if for 
a thousand guests, while the only occupants were four 
couples, " spooning " sans gine^ one in each corner, 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 61 

and a small party of men and girls drinking in the 
middle. I called a waiter; Le spoke nothing but 
Russian, and Rassian 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 
cafS. This was disappointing. I called Vassili, and 
he drove on to another "garden," deeply buried in 
sno'w. 

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 mtiuj papiross, or cigarettes, vrith 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. 



52 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES, 

As luck would have it, that which I believed was 
the one worst night in the year to find the gypsy 
minsti-els proved to be the exceptional occasion when 
they were all assembled, and I bad 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 strangei-s, whom the slightest utterance would 
convert into frieuds. 

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, — 

" Itakessa tu Momanes^ miri pen f " (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, — 

" JRomanichal ! " 

That word awoke the entire company, and with it* 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 68 

they fcnnd out who the intruder was. '' Then might 
you hear them cry aloud, ' The Moringer is here 1 ' " 
for I began to feel like the long-lost lord returned, 
so wsurm 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, — 

^^ Av^akaij ava'kai^ Romanichal ! " (Come here ; 
here 's a gyjpsy I) 

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 di(l, 
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 helle 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 
tints, 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, viettx garfons^ 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 



64 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

present, and I soon observed that every word I ut- 
tered was promptly repeated, while every eye was 
fixed on me. 

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 OfiEenbachian 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 
larfi^e diamond, which seemed as if it mig^ht be the 
right eye in the wrong place, was what is called an 
earnest young lady, with plenty to say and great 
energy 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 cany 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 he was a Gorgio of the Gorgios, and did not 
seem, despite any talent for languages which he might 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 56 

possess, likely to trouble himself to acquire Romany 
Trbile 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 ^Hhese gypsies," being 
delighted at the visit from the gentleman from a 
distant country, would like to ofiEer 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 gi*eat value of such 
a compliment from singers whose fame had reached 
me even in America. It was evident that my gi-ain of 
a reply did not fall upon stony gi*ound, 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 ahandon which 
attains perfection only among gypsies. I had enjoyed 
the singing in St. Petersburg, but there was a laisser 
aUer^ a completely gay spirit, in this Christmas-Eve 
gypsy party in Moscow which was much more " whirl- 
ing away." For at Dorot the gypsies had been on 
eadiibition ; here at Petrovka they were frolicking en 



66 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

famille with a favored gaest, — 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 shukdr^ 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 tliat 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 butn 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," 
said one of the girls. Now, as every student of gyp- 
sies 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 handjwith 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 Waramoff's beautiful song of the ''Kras- 
neya Sarafan," which Sarsba 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. PetersbuTg; 
apropos of which I may mention that, when I after- 
ward yidted the gypsy family in their own home, 
the first request from Sarsha was, ^JBto ffUyOj rya!^^ 
(JPluEt song, sir}, referring to " Romany," which has 
been heard at seTeral concerts in London. And so, 
after much discnswon of the aCEairs of Egypt, I took 
my leaye amid a choras of kind farewells. Then 
Vassili, loudly called for, reappeared from some nook 
with his d^antly 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 dnks 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 thmba*. It is 
remarkable that the gypsies, althou^ 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 froien stiEE, while the gypsy was 
snoring away unharmed. As we returned, I saw in 
the town something which recalled this story in more 
than one nun^ik^ who, well wrapped up, lay sleeping 
in the open air, under the lee of a house. Passing 
through silent Moscow on the eaily Christmas mom, 
under the stare, as I gased at the marvelous city, 
which yields neither to Edinburgh, Cairo, nor Prague 
in picturesqueness, and thought over the strange 
evening I had spent among the gypsies, I felt as if 
I were in a melodrama with striking scenery. The 
pleasing Jm^de was the utter amaaement and almost 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 69 

speechless gratitude of Yassili at getting an extra 
half-ruble as an earl; Christmas gift. 

As I had received a pressing invitation from the 
gypsies to come again, I resolved to pay them a visit 
on Christmas afternoon in their ovirn house, if I could 
find it. Having ascertained that the gypsy street was 
in a distant quarter, called the QrouBzini^ I engaged a 
sleigh, standing before the door of the Slavanski- 
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 istvo^tshik 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. 

acgutuntance of another very lat^e family of gypsies, 
who sang at a rivKl cafS, and who bad also treated 
me Tery kindly. I was at once conducted to a house, 
which we entered in a rather gypay 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, hut dressed, one or two rery 
dark Romaiiys, whose faces I remembered. Then 
we passed into a sitting-room, which was very well 
furnished. I observed banging 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 
th^ faces ; just as the photographs of the old Ulfilas 
manuscnpt revealed alterations not visible in the 
original. In the centre of the group was a cabinet- 
size portrait of Sarsba, and by it another of an Eng- 
lishman of very high rank. I thought this odd, but 
asked no questions. 

My boats were very kind, offering me pi-omptly a 
rich kind of Russian cake, begging to know what else 
I would like to eat or drink, and apparently deeply 
concerned that I could really partake of nothing, as I 
had juat come from luncheon. They were all ligliU 
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 
gypsiea ^eie in tVieii art, and to what a degree tliey 
enjoyed niid wero excited by their own singing. Here 
ill their own home, warbling like birds and frolicking 
like children, their performance was even more de- 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 61 

lightfnl than it had been m 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 
Qaji 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 pei*fectly 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 
forfcy 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 
tl)an 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^ None 

^ In Old English Romany this is called dorrikin ; in common par- 
lance, dukkerin. fioth forms are reallr old. 



62 THE 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 t/ou 
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, temi 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 veiy 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 
puts faith in a gusveri mush^ or some ^^ wise man," 
who with crystal or magical apparatus professes oo- 
'cult knowledge ; for she thinks that her own false art 
is an 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 kinduess they had shown me, I could not find 



THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES, 68 

it in my heart to refase 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 f oi'tunes 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 vitra 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 chiromaucing 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 
lig^t 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 vnth the 
laws of chiromancy. The art reminds one of Cer- 
vantes's ape, who told tUe past and present, but not 
the future. And here ^^ tell me what thou hast been, 
and I will tell what thou vnlt 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 last 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 he appeared to be un peu gaillard^ 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 
ple^ised, 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- 
tive. I suppose he had his reasons for declining. 

Then we had singing again, and Christopher, the 
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 a sleigh-driver, began to bai*gain 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." 

'" iVbw," replied the Russian, with the air of a man 
of principles. "7Z ne favi 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. Petersbui^, I made the acquaintance of a young 
Russian noble and diplomat, who was well informed 
on all current gossip, and learned from him some 
curious facts. The first young gentleman whom I 

5 



66 THE RUSSIAN GYPSIES. 

had seen among the Romanys of Moscow was the 
son of a Rassian prince by a gypsy mother, and the 
very noble Englishman whose photograph I had seen 
in Sarsha's collection had not long ago (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 har^ or dia- 
mond, which sparkled on her finger had been paid 
for with British gold, while the donor had gained the 
siame ^'unluck" which befell one of his type in the 
Spanish gypsy song as given by George Borrow : — 

" Loud sang the Spanish cayalier. 

And thus his ditty ran : 
' Gk>d send the gypsy maiden here, 

But not the gypsy man.' 

'' On high arose the moon so bright, 

The gypsy *gan to sing, 
' I see a Spaniard coming here, 
I mast 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 Congrds In- 
ternationale Litt^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 ipatter 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 smaU caK 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 AUSTBlAy 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 be said, "one velly big pieces man," I sat and 
lifted my eyes from time to time at the nsnal level, 
forgetfully expecting to meet his eyes, and beheld 
instead the buttons on his breast. Then I looked 
up — like Daruma to Euddha — and np, and saw 
far above me his " lights of the aoul " gleaming down 
on me hs 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 
" nnmpa one too muchee glanti handsome man, £rst 
chop big," 

Then he added, " Ton belongy Inklis man ? " 

" No. My one piecee fa-ke-kwok ; ^ ray Meliean, 
galaw. Tou 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 paios to learn the language of each, so 
that he spoke German, Italian, and Spanisli 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 tliat 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 
gTMiUy gfatified him by citing some of my own 
" beautiful verses," which are reversed from a Chinese 
original : — 

< Flawer-flRg-DStiOD man ; ibnt la, Americui. 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 69 

** One man who never leadee ^ 
Like one dlj ^ inkstan be : 
You tnrn he np-side downy. 
No ink Inn^ outside he." 

So we parted witli 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 £ng. They 
wrote their autographs for me, and put them wisely 
at fche 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 Hdtel 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 
wab 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 you. That girl certainly 

^ Leadee, reads. * Dly, dry. > Lun, run. 



|\) AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

\w>^^^ you. She's tarning her head. There, — I 
\\^\\\ \wv wiy O Romany rye 1 " 

\ w^« bewildered. The -crowd was dense, but as 
\\\^ }MH)ea8sion passed me at a second turn I saw 
th^y ware indeed gypsies, and I was grasped by the 
\m\\\ by more than one. They were my old friends 
Ih'om Moscow. This explained the immense malti- 
Uu)0i There was daring the Exhibition a great ^ror 
att regarded les zigains. The gypsy orchestra which 
performed in the Hungarian caf^ 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 d^but 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 I " 
Then they adjourned to the open air, where the voices 
were lost altogether on a crowd calling, " Gar f on — 
vite — une tasse cqfSP^ or applauding. In the in- 
tervals scores of young Russian gentlemen, golden 
Bwella, 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 other 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 alfresco. I objected to this, not wishing to take 
part any longer in such a very public exhibition. 
For the gohe-mouches and starers, noticing a stranger 
talking with ces zigains^ had begun to gather in a 
dense crowd around us, lEind 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 natvetS 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 sadden 
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 
fiiend, 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 caf^. 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. 

*^Tou have more sense, and you do understand. 
Adro miro tern penena mande o baro raV* (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. 78 

pai-ty bowed very low, raising their hands to their 
foreheads, in Oriental fashion. 

'^ Hallo I " 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. 

" Great God 1 " he exclaimed, " what is this I hear? 
This is wonderful. To think that there should be 
anybody here to talk with I I can only talk Magyar 
and Romanes.'* 

** And what do you talk ? " I inquired of the first 
Tiolin. 

" Ich spreche nur DeiUBch ! " he exclaimed, with a 
strong Vienna accent and a roar of laughter. *^ I 
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 di£Ference: 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 raute^ 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 coming 
down with his snore, diminuendo^ while the other 
was rising, crescendo^ and at the exact point of inter- 
section, moderator I blew my car-whisde, 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 gjrpsy 
captain. ^^ Will you not take seats on the platform, 
and hear ns play ? " 

I did not know it at the time, but I heard after- 
wards that this was a gi*eat compliment, and one 
rarely bestowed. The platform was small, and we 
were very near our new friends. Scarcely had the 
performance began 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 tour was deftly made 
the dark master nodded to me with gleaming eyes, as 
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 I here was somebody to play to who knew 
gypsy and all the games thereof ; for a very little, 
even a word, reveals a great 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 thundera of applause. 

" That was not the racoczy^'* I said. " Yet it 
sounded like it." 

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



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 75 

the raeoczy and the czardas as yoa 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 raeoczy^ 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 tbem, 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- 
forgetfnlness which whirls the soul away as the soul 
of the Moenad went with the stream adown the 
mountains, — JEvoe 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 sti*eam 
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 
moqt touching ever written : — 

** Djal o pafii repedishis, 
M'ro pirano hegedishis ; 

" Dyal o paSi tale yatra, 
M'ro pirano klanetaha. 

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

" The stream mns 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. 

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



76 AUSTBIAN GYPSIES. 

Yes, music whirliDg the soul away as an a mshing 
river, the violin notes falling like ripples, the flate 
tones all aflow among the rocks ; and when it sweeps 
adoffio on the sandy bed, then the gypsy player is 
at heart eqnal 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 wondei-ful. 
Among certain inedited songs of the Transylvanian 
gypsies, in the Kolosv&rer dialect, I find the fol- 
lowing : — 

" Na janar ko dad m'zo as, 
17iko maUen mange as, 
Miro gale dai meidjas 
Pirani me piegelyas. 
Ura tVL o hegediye 
Tu sal mindik pasb 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 conquere.d 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 

to 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 feeU 
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 sarviye. 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 I 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 badauda 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 vrith 
their music. 

^^ Latcho divvuB miri pralia! — midtivel atch pa 
iumende!^^ (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 
were 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 their 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 
glad that I chanced that morning on those dark men 
and spoke to them in Romany. 

Since the above was wiitten I have met in an 
entertaining work called " Unknown Hungaiy," 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 0YPSIE8. 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 
sing 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 ; 
from 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 Ufe, passion, 



80 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

laughter, and tears. TJie instrument which the gyp- 
sies prefer is the vioKn, which they call ha£ 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 hashed, 
» soft, caressing measure ; and again, almost breaking 
the trembling cords of their bows, they produced 
such 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 laughed 
and cried at once ; then, drawing a roll of bank-notes 
from his pocket-book, he 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 the 



8TRIAN GYPSIES. 88 

man with aU KSb* heart and soul is in the order of 
things. We talk ah^tMt the mystical Germans, but 
German self-conscicsus'mTBlkeism is like a problem of 
Euclid beside the natarak iuMt|H;e8sed dreaminess of 
the Czech. The Germ^^^iBOyalfy^go^ to work at once 
to expound his ^^ system " itr DaiigOries^.dressing it up 
in a technology which in the end-proves to be *he only 
mystery in it. The Bohemian and gjrpsy, eacb Ul 
their degrees of culture, form no system and make fkB 
technology, but they feel all the more. Now the 
difference between ti'ue and imitative mysticism is 
that the former takes no form ; it is even narrowed 
by religious creeds, and wing-dipt by pious " illumi- 
nation." Natare, 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 fi.nd 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- 
schek'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 AOSTBIAN GYPSIES. ' 

f 

artist, — abore all, the tragic artist,^ — Aat the tree 
of hia or her genius shall sot only soar to heaven 
among the angels, bat also l;^se roots in the depths 
of darkness and &e^ and'jfhat her or she shall play 
not only to the aa^tetMSe^^d in sympathy with them, 
bat also unto- one'^^ielf and down to one's deepest 

JSoone will accose me of wide discussion or pad- 
dilig 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 vHg- 
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 cigurs ; 
in like manner tipsiness is often to the gypsy and 
Servian, or Czech, or Croat, sotnetbing 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 
sti'ange element I gave it expression in a poem which 
I called " The Bohemian," as expressive of both gypsy 
and Slavonian nature : — 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 86 



THE BOHEMIAN. 

Chces II tsjnou tm &iieb prardu TjsrM^ti 
Blaien, dlM opily olorA o torn umejl poTOdeti. 

Wonldftt thou know a truth or mystery, 
A dmnkard, fool, or child may tell it thee. 

BORSnAN Pbotieb 

And now I '11 wrap my blanket o*er roc, 

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

And watch my pipe clouds, meltiug, 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 Fcsth 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 sonl leaps forth to light again. 

Whence come these white girls wreathing round me f 
Barushka 1 — long I thought thee dead ; 

Katchenka ! — when these arms last bonnd thee 
Thoa 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. 

Alns ! I sink. My spirits miss me. 

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

I rise — I 'm safe — I 'm strong once more. 

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



86 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

The itar 1 — it strikes my soal, revealing 
All life and light to me again. 



Against the waves fresh 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 gleaming, — 
Pale rings of fire, wild eyea of death 1 

Why haunt me thus, awake or dreaming 1 
Methought I left ye with my breath 1 

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, 
He who fears naught hath conquered fate ; 

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

O wondrous eyes, of star-like lustre, 
How have ye changed to guardian love I 

Alasl where 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 1 

Where is she ? When the moouli<vht glistens 

O'er silent lake or murmuring stream, 
I hear her call my soul, which listens, 
" Oh, wake no more I Come, lovo, and dream 1 " 



H 



AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. . 87 

She came to earth, eaiHi's loveliest creature ; 

She died, and then was bom once more; 
Changed was her race, and changed each featore. 

But yet I loTed her as before. 

We live, bnt still, when night has bound me 

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

She comes, — the lored one of the past. 

I know not which I love the dearest. 

For both the lores 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, Elara chides me, laughing, 

And says we love, too well in sleep. 

And though no more a Yoivode'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 's in those who love me. 

And higher still, our life 's divine. 

'\ 

9 

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 theiV 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 hegeddBoh or Hungarian bards, but sounding 
to our ears likt! the more distant echo of that exceed- 
ing bitter cry, uttered long centuries ago by their 
forefathers under Egyptian bondage, and borne over 
the 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, — 1 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 intervtl 
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 musici 
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 
tlrose 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 1 See how 
gently he draws the bow across the trembling strings, 



90 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES. 

and how lovingly lie lays bis cheek upon ifc, as if list- 
ening to some responsive echo of his heart's inmost 
feeling, for it is his mystic language I How the iu- 
strument lives and answers to his every touch, send- 
ing forth in turn utterances tender, sad, wild, and 
joyous I 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 genei*al burst of sound, every performer 
starts into life and motion. Then what crude and 
wild dissonances are made to resolve themselves into 
delicious harmony I What rapturous and fervid 
phrases, 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 1 " 

The writer is gifted in giving words to gypsy mu- 
sic. One cannot say, as the inexhaustible Cad vnrites 
of Niagara ten times on a page in the Visitors' Book, 
that it is indescribable. I think that if language 
means an^'thing this music has been very well de- 
scribed by the writers whom I 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 
ago, 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 city, heard 
it last night in the winter wind, vrith Romany words 
mingled in wild refrain : — 

" Kamaea tuie, miri cheltadi I " 



AUSTBIAN GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 

It was a sunny Sanday 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 hot. 
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. 
Tet 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 bad the Gitano gleam 
as one seldom sees it in England. I confess that I 
experienced a thrill a» I exchanged glances with 



92 AUSTRIAN GYPSIES, 

them. It was a long time since I had seen a Rom- 
any, and, as asual, 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 diiSerence to 

you" 

" By the Lord, signore, you have seen every e^ 

in the basket." 

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

tone, — 

"JVe roike%a tu Romanes miro pralaf^* 

There was a startled glance from one to the other, 

and 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 



AUSTBIAN GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 93 

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

^^ JUishto horn me dikava tute.^* (1 am glad to see 
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 Boms. 
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, 
there as here, think that ^' I want to know " is full 
excuse for all intrusiveness. CTest tout comme chez 
nous. I confess that I was vexed, and, considering 
that it VTas in my native city, mortified. 



94. AUSTRIAN GYPSIES 

A few days after I went out to the tan where 
these Roms had camped. But the birds had flown, 
and a little pile of ashes and the usual d^ris 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 fingera 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 sketeh of a landscape by 
employing fifty men to keep off the multitude. I 



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 readera 
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 'm 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 I 

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- 
lerlff^ or green Gorgios, is founded on a conscioasness 
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 be 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 Baden- 
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. 



L 



OATLANDS PABK. 



Oatlands Paek (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 foi*ty 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 jnore 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 efiFectually 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.^ I confess that I could never see either 

1 Within a mile, Maginn lies baried, without a monument. 



98 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

grotto or grave-yard without Bmoerely wishing, ont of 
r^ard to the memory of both duke and duchess, that 
these ridicnious relics of ynlgar taste and affected 
sentimentalism could be completely obliterated. But, 
apart from them, the scenes around are very beauti- 
ful ; for there are g^rassy slopes and pleasant lawns, 
ancient trees and broad grayel walks, oyer 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 
honr^s walk is the palace built by Cardinal Wolsey, 
while over the river, and visible from the portico, is 
the littie old Gothic church of Shepperton, and in the 
same view, to the right, is the old Walton Bridge, 
by Cowie Stakes, supposed to cover the exact spot 
where Csesar 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 Battle 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 was .the Word who spake it. 
He took the bread and brake it ; 
And what that Word did make it. 
That I believe, and take it." 



OATLANDS PARK. 99 

Id 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 reigni 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-upon- 
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*8 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 brid^, 
wliich 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 kitchema 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 ESGLISS GYPSIES. 

loaded with baskets, boosehold utenBila, toys, or cheap 
ornaments, which she endeavors, like a tnie Antolyca, 
with wily ai'te and wheedling tones, to sell to the ma- 
tics. When it can be managed, this hawking is often 
an introduction to fortune-telling, and if these fail the 
gypsy has recourse to be^ng. 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 
d(^, 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 doUa ; the boys, indeed, affect whips, 
aa becomes incipient jockeys, but on the whole they 
never seemed to me to have the same ideas aa to play 
as ordinary house-childi'en. The author of " My In- 
dian Garden " has made the same observation of Hin- 
doo little ones, whose ways are not aa our ways were 
when we were young. Roman and Egyptian children 
had their dolls; and there is something sadly sweet 
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 
are so rude and queer, these Roman puppets ; and yet 
they were loved once, and had pet names, and their 
owl-like faces were ae tenderly kissed as their little 
mistresses had been by their mothers. So the Romany 
girl, unlike the Roman, is generally doll-lesa and toy- 
less. But tliL' affection between mother and child is 
as warm iiinoiig these wanderers as with any other 
people ; and it is a touching sight to see the gypsy who 



L 



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, and 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 
the 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 tuvaloy or tobacco. They were 
connoisseurs, too, and the elder boy, as he secured 
his share, smelled it with intense satisfaction, and 




102 BNGLISB GYPSIES. 

saici, " That 'a rye's tSvalo;" that is, "gentleman's 
tohacco," or best quality. 

One evening, as the shadows were darkening the 
day, I met a little gyps; 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 Somany, and 
offered to help him carry it I 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 r&- 
tuming with a gentleman helping him to carry bis 
load I 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 aquaver of startled ghaatliness in her 
laugh. She had been alarmed for her boy, and when 
I appeared she thought I was a swell biiogiag him 
in under arrest; but when I announced myself in 
Roinany as an accomplice, emotion stifled thought. 
And I lingert^d not, and spoke no more, but walked 
away into the woods iiiul the darkness. However, the 
legend went forth on tliu roads, even nnto Kingston, 
and was told among the rollicking Romanys of 'Appy 
'Ampton ; for there are always a merry, loafing lot 



OATLANDS PARK. 108 

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 he 
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, aud 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 Jcheyf or mere re- 
pose concentrated into actuality is to the Arab, that 
is Nature to him who has followed her for long }'ears 
through poete and mystics and in works of art, mitil 
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- 
shine. The priory was called Newstead or De Novo 
Loco in Norman times, when it was founded by 
Ruald de Calva, in the day of Richard Coeiir 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 
surrounding scenery is composed of rivers and rivu- 
\ets," — 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. 106 



THE MONKS OE THE WEY. 

k T&17B AND IMPORTANT SBLATION OF THB WONDBBF17L TUN- 
VBLL OF VBWABKE ABBBT AND OF THB UNTIKBLT ENDB OF 
SBYBBALL OF YB GH08TLT BBBTH*REN. 

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

To the sweet nuns of Ockham 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. 

Por 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 I 
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 and shovel and pike and bill ; 



106 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

And {lom evening'B dose till the dawn of day 
Thej worked like miners all under the Wej. 

And at vesper hour, as their work h^g^n, 
Each sang of the charms of his fayorite nun ; 
" How surprised they will he, and how hsppy 1 " said they, 
" When we pop in upon them from under the Wey ! '* 

And for months they kept gruhhing and making no sound 
like other hiack 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 dose 
And early one mom 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. 



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 i^as 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 andflirt 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 she 
might be turned into one after death ; and it is not 



OATLANDS PARK. * 107 

difficult for a dreamer in an old abbey, of a golden 
day to fancy that these 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 reaUy 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 Oreeka 
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 
run, 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 I 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 ^ men for 

^ Mashing f a word of gypsv origin [mashana), meaning fascination 
by the eye, ur takiny: 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 occhio lontan 
doT 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 Romany, 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 BSijtober 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 I a nice Beshaley you, to sing 
mumpin and mongerin, when a half-blood Matthews 



110 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

has too mnch decency to trouble the rye ! And 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 you. Yes, I know 
that, ffivelli^ 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 be^ar, but I stand a ptuh-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 saspicion, everything like 
ill-feeling or distrust naturally vanished from her 
mind ; for it is of the nature of the Romanys 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, especially 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 
still 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 ri/as [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- 



OAT LANDS PARK. Ill 

qnire, a most accurately-detailed and form-polislied 
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 efiEeclively 
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 
dronis [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 stains above him, 
and a creature of second-hand fashion. 

I found in the camp an old acquaintance, named 
Brown, and also perceived at the fii-st greeting that 
the woman Stanley had told Mrs. Brown that I would 
not be monger do^ 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 iuto 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. 118 

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 I 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 illiistrnting 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, 
theire was not one who ever begged from me, they 
tiaving 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. 

ish." I looked at the van, of which the Browns are 
proud, and inqaired if it were true that it had been 
insnred for a hundred poauds, as George had re- 
cently boasted. Persuasion having failed, Mrs. Brown 
ti-ied bold defiaiice, 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, thiuking 
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 htm full five 
pounds. This was a sad come-down from the story 
first told. Then I seriously rated his wife tor 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 Bovo Gav, begging a f nend, who knows 
all about you, for money ! Now, here is a shilling. 
Take it. Have half a ci-own ? Two of 'em I No ! 
Oh, you don't want it here in your own house. Well, 
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 yuva, who hasn't even got a diag [wagon], 
that you can beat her a memgerin mand^ [be^ng 
me]." 

Mrs. Brown assented volubly to everything, and 
all the timu I saw in her smiling eyes, ever agi'eeing 
to all, and heard from her voluble lips nothing but 
the lie, — that lie which is the mental action and 



OATLANDS PARK. 116 

inmost grain of the Romany, and especially of the 
diddikaii 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 o£E them. 
Here in her rolling home she was neither a beggar 
nor poor, and she issued her orders grandly. «' BoU 
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. 



116 ENGU8B GTPSIB3. 

A is the door ; JB is the bed, or rather two beds, 
each six feet long, like berths, with a vacant spaoe 
below ; O' is a grate oooking'StoTe ; i> )b a table, 
which hangs by hinges from the wall ; ^ ia a chest 
of drawers; / aud^are two chairs. The general ap- 
pearance of a well-kept van is that of a Btate-room. 
Brown's is a very good van, and quite clean. They 
are admirably well adapted for slow traveling, and it 
was in snch vans, purchased from gypsies, that Sir 
Samuel Baker and his wife explored the whole of 
Cyprns. 

Mrs. Brown was proad of her van and of her little 
treasures. From the great recess under the bed she 
raked out as a i-are cariosity an old Dolly Varden or 
damasked skirt, not at all vroi-n, qaite 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 Iriahman 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, granddaughter- 
hood being hardly a claim to true nobility. Then 
the bed itself was exhibited with pride, and the 
princess sung its praises, till she affirmed that the 
n/e himself did iiot sleep on a better one, for which 
Geoi^e repvimaiided 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 I 
—and was received as a great compliment, and after- 
wards proclaimed on the roads even unto the ends of 
Surrey. 

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

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

^^So one would think; but the ranyor [osiers] 
costs nothing 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-from 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 just where 
the Browns were, once said to me, ^^ It ia 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 
Avith snow." Now this woman had only a wretched 
wagon, and was always tramping in the rain, or cow- 
ering in a smoky, ragged tent and sitting on the 
ground, but she had food, fire, and fun, with warm 
clothes, and believed herself happy. Truly, she had 



118 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

better reason to tliink -so than any old maid with a 
heart mn to waste on church gossip, or the latest 
engagements and marriages ; for it is better to be a 
street-boy in a comer with a cmst 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. 



11. 

WALKING AND VISITING. 

I KEVEB 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 that 
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 Faby Schools of Design, whose 
scholars combine in this graceful style Etching on 
Glass and Art Needlework ? 

We were going to the village of Hersham 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. 

Cfood Lodging far Travellers. With a Large 
Private Kitchen. 

THE CROSS KEYS, 
Wsn SiBsn JIaxdiiihiad. 

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 gaines. 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, 
recoveiing 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 Bar%haun haw.^^ 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, evidently thinking I did not under- 
stand, — 



12'2 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

" Dikk^adovo Gargio^ adai t " (Look at that Gor- 
gio, there I) 

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 sariahdn bd 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 Engp 
land, who, be they rich or poor, are affected towards 
gypsies. The wealthy one lived with a gypsy mis- 
tress ; 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 Cauterbury, 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 
«22-'2-'2-'2, uz-uz-^Z'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 
a great, stout, roaring Romany woman, — a scarlet- 
runner of Babylon run to seed, — with a boy and a 
hand-carfc to carry the seed in. And to her I cried, 
" JSTav akai te mandy^ll del tute a shdori!^^ ^Come 
here, and I Ul stand a sixpence I) Bdt she did not 



WALKING AND VISITING. 123 

belieye 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 V 
thought a sixpence would 'a' brought her to I " 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 1 " 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 upnstairs, 
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 
the^ 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^ b huddika [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 ^ti^opence, 
though it 's clear out of all my rules.' And he did 



124 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

it; but why that man rakkered Itomanes 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. Bat 
I 'ye known men in Sussex to take to di^n' truffles 
on the same principles, and one Gorgio in Hastings 
that adopted sellin' fried fish for his liyin', 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 was 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 gUtiengro^ which means a song-master, but that he 
himself regarded shcreskero-mushy 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. 126 

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 
ways, — of course you see the connection, — as was 
shown in Adelheid von Sigolsheim, the Holy Nun of 
Uuterlinden, 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 neyer 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 .^ 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 was, 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 
defied 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." 

^ Qoerres, ChritiUche Mystik, 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 takiug their last swim towards the reedy, 
brake-tangled islets where they nested, gossiping as 
they went. The deepening dajrkness, 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 atan^ 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. 

" Sariahan ryor ! " 

"0 hdro duvel atcK pa leateT* (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 was 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, ^^Sadt/^ uncle." I said it 
because I had recognized bj 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 
veyy 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 veiy 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, bi-eaks 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 'b a many witches as knows cleyer 
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 
might disappear. All of his friends declared his in- 
nocence. The next trouble was for chorin a yry, 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, he was always spoken of as 
genteel, owing to the fact, that whati^ver the state 
of his wardrobe might be, he always wore about his 
neck an immaculate white woolen scarf, and on Jours 
de f6te^ such as horse-races, sported a horo stardty or 
chimney-pot hat. O my friend. Colonel Dash, of 

the club I Change but the name, this fable is 

of thee I 

^^ There 's to be a tvalgaro^ haliko i sola — 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 
thafc 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 I 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 



m. 

COBHAH 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 gateway, 
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 Ouillaume 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. 181 

manship. Once, when Qaeen Elizabeth was present 
at a steg hant, he leaped from his horse apon the 
back of the stag, while both were running at full 
speed, kept his seat gracefully, guided the animal 

towards tbe queen, and stabbed him bo deftiy that 

he fell dead at her majesty's feet. It was daintily 
done, and doubtless Queen Bess, who loved a proper 
mivn, 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 tbe neck with his cauteau de chassCf 
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- 
mexlts by Roubiliac and Chantrey in the church, and 
<m 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 4«. 6(2. 
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 nune lies buried 
in the church-yard without. This is Dr. Maginn, the 
author of " Father Tom and the Pope," and many 



182 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 viralent, 
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 fatiie 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 aroand 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 1 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. 188 

reports, on dtts^ small slanders, proved or unproved ; 
to all gobe-mouches, 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 ^ 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 I 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 
some way connected with battle, murder, plots, Puri- 
tans, sudden death, and politics ; though how this 
was is more than legend can clearly explain. Whether 
his sacred majesty was led to execution through this 




184 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

oavity, or wliether Charles the Seoond had it for ooe 
of his namerouB hiding-places, or returned through 
It with Nell Gw;an from his exile, are other obscnre 
points debated among the villager. The tmth is 
that the whole country about Walton ie sabterrened 
with strange and winding ways, leading no one knows 
whither, dug in the days of the monks or knights, 
from one long'Tanished 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 beard 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 hiuid, 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 vrin her love. It takes its name from croix 
(a cross), according to Mr. Kemble,^ 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 aa the trunk. Under this tree WickliSe 
preached, and Queen Elisabeth 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. Trae, 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 
petfplo would be merry, sunt men have foi^otten how 
to give tliemaelves up to Iiuadlong roaring revelry. 
Tba last of this tremendoiis frolicking in Entope 

' The Saxoni in England, i, 8. 



COBHAM FAIR. 185 

died out with the last yearly hervneii in Amster- 
dam, and it was indeed wonderful to see with what 
atter ahandon 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 
medisdval 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- 
mthatanding the graduaUy 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 




3S6 ENGUSa GYPSIES. 

or carvea is d^enerate and low, and therefore aa- 
nonnces, io a line of letters, that his establishiQeot is 
the Pig and Whistle, jnst as his remote predecessor 
thought it was low, or slow, or old-fashioned to ded- 
icate hifl ale-shop to PJgen Wassail or Hail to the 
Virgin, and bo changed it to a more genteel and sec- 
nlai' form. In the public place were rows of booths 
arranged in streets forming imperium in impeno, a 
towu within a town. There was of conrse 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 Lim as thandy 
guff' There, too, were the stHnds, presided over by 
jaunty, sancy girls, who would load a rifle for yon 
and give you a pi-ize or a certain number of shots for 
a shilling. You may be a good shot, but the better 
you shoot the less likely will yon be to hit the buUV 
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 foi^t. 

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 Petnlengro, so artfully was he disguised as a 
simple-seeming agriculturalist of the better lower- 
class. But that tlicre remained in Sam's black eyes 
that gUnt of the Romany wliich nothing could dis- 
guise, one would have longed to buy a horse of him. 



\ 



COBHAM FAIR. 187 

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 thp 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 2LJour defite 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 
mto its nets. To watch one of these small horse- 
dealers at ar fair, and to observe the manner in which 
he conducts his bargains, is very cunous. 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 
that horse; somebody telling a farmer tliat he knows 



188 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

a young man as has got a likely 'oss at 'aif price, 
the larst of a lot which he wan1» 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 deffuisS, 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. Tes, 
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, ofiEering to bet that 'ere gent won't close on 
that boss. " Bet yer ten bob he will." " Done." 
** How do yer know he don't take the boss ? " " He 
carn't; he's too heavy loaded with BilFs 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 *Hhe 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 of 
the purchaser, a game not unknown to Gorgios. I 
have heard of a German ydhud in Philadelphia, 
whose little boy Moses would shoot from the door 



COBHAM FAIR. 189 

with a pop-gon or squirt at passers-by, or abase 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 me, — 

" See the two policemen ? They 're following you 
two gentlemen. They saw you pallin' with Bowers. 
That Bowers is the biggest blackguard on the roads 
between London and Windsor. I don't want to hurt 
his char&ckter, but it 's no bad talkin' nor dt^herin 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- 
TIQK OF THE Agb. 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, shadowed 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 litde opera-bouffe, gypsies not being wanting. 



140 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

And as we came roand, io oar 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 in her veins, but it is worth noting 
that among all these show-men and show-women, 
acrobats, exhibitors of giants, pui'se-droppers, ginger- 
bread-wheel gamblers, shilling knife-throwers, pitch- 
in-his-moutbs. 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 convenariceB 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 tube pen mandy^d chore tute f " (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 9ifemme incomprisey 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 
Bomewbat her inordinate yanity, she is generally 
grateful enough to him who has thos 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 
Auyfemme 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 hiB 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 hnmors 
' 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. 148 

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-fleams ; 
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 I'elics 
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 assthetio prig 



144 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

in London who could have lived an hoar in it. Truly, 
I should like to know what Fi*an9oi8 Villon and Chau- 
cer would have thought of some of their modern ador- 
ers, or what the lioness Fair-sinnei*s of the olden time 
would haye had to say to the nervous weaklings who 
try to play the genial blackguard in their praise I 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 magna 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 Tan, 
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 EOBTUNBS. 

** Thus spoke the king to the great Master : ' Thou didst bless and 
ban the people ; thoa didst g^ye 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 hearen, and I am not greater nor wiser than he 
was before he fell. Hast thou any more questions, son 1 '* 

" 'And the lung 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 GYPSIES. 

^^ It seems to me to be really wrong to try to look 
into the awf al secrets of f aturity. One can never be 
certain as to what a gypsy may not know. It 's all 
very well, I dare say, to declare it 's all rubbisb, 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 Ve 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, 
and even a gypsy knows it, and can read them at a 
' ghvnce. 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 
darting swallows and light water-gnats, as the sun 
sank afar into the tawny, golden west, and Night, in 
ever-nearing 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 
vinegar. 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, ray lady, and there 's luck 
in i1^ 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 thaf 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 ti-avel in a foreign land, and 
remember what I told you to the end of your life 
days." 



148 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

Then the Tfidow had her tarn. 

*^ This is a lucky hand, and little need you had to 
have your {prtune 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 has 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 was agreed that the honncB fortune» 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 comer 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 knovm," 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 convei*ted to the law of turtle soup and the gos- 
pel 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 
fortune to others, know this. Yet, if this had been 
told to all the world, the conjurer's business would 



160 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

not have Buffered. Not a bit of it. Mitre Jean^ pas^e 
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 afteraoon 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, f u'rzy 
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 I 
You 're a bori chovihani [a great witch], — indeed, you 
are n't." 

" Rye^^ said the gypsy, with a droll smile and a 
shrug, — I think I can see it now, — ** the dvtJeherin 
[prediction] was all right, but I pet the right duh- 
kerins 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 
Canadian weither prophet is said to keep two clerks 
busy, one in recording his predictions, the other in 
explaining their failures; which 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, sub- 



THE MIXED FORTUNES. 161 

mit to be devoured alive by ants, — insects which in 
Africa coiTespond in several respects to editoi's and 
critics, particularly the stinging kind. ^^Und ist 
man hei der Prophezeiung angestellty^^ 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 snmmer 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 
trained 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 fSte 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 Hnrst, 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 ^Uhe 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 
a swell. I was nicely attired, by chance, for the oo- 



164 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

casion, for I had come oat, thinking of a ride, in a 
white hat, new corduroy pantaloons and 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 fiud it so outrageously low 
as I had 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. 

^^ Sarishan rr/e ! 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 rye there. Just the other night, your Coopers 
was a-lyin' round their fire, every one of 'era 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, dtfCy I stand a shilling for beer, and that 's 
all I can do to-day, for I 've come out with only shove 
trin-grushV^ 

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

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



HAMPTON RACES. 165 

lavvo with the best of 'em for the credit of his people. 
And if yoii want a har [a pound] or two, I '11 lend 
yon 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 ofiFered 
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. Vacuu9 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 ENGLISH 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 eurro levinor^ yeckfor tute^ yeck for 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. 
Gro to the fire and dry yourself. Here, Bill, I say 1 
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- 
repeated pumraeling, 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 I New welwe- 
teen 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, AgDes 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 yon 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 
cAavo." 

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 
rit-e 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 
i-ays, 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 conntriesy 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 
five feet high, looked like disconsolate and starved 
spectres, 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. " 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- 
sies, was attempting, though I knew it not, to take 



HAMPTON RACES. 169 

the group. But tlie keen eye of the Romany saw it 
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 after the 
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, "Pen* urpAw.'*'^ 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 diminitive 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 I " said the 
artist. 

^ Peru urphu! "Increase and mnltiplj!" Vide Bodenachati, 
Kirckliehe Verfauung der Juden, part IV. ch. 4, sect 2. 



160 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

" If he has n't got money in his pocket now," said 
Old Liz, speaking up in my defense, ^^ he has plenty 
at home. He ha^ given pounds and pounds to us 
gypsies." 

^^Dovo's a huckaben^^^ I said to her in Romany. 
^^ Mandy kekker delled tute kumi'n a trin-gruiKV* 
(That is untrue. I never gave you more than a 
shilling.) 

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

" Yes, rya^^^ said Old Liz, when I regretted the 
absence of my Lady Lee, and talked with her about 
shoe-strings and old shoes, and how necessary it was 
to cry out ** Peru urphu ! " when you throw them, — 
" yes. That 's the way the Gorgis always half does 
things. You see 'em get a horse-shoe off the roads, 
and what do they do with it I Goes like dinneli 
idiots and nails it up with the p'ints down, which, 
as is well beknown, brings all the bad luck there is 
flyin' in the air into the bouse, and tadera choviha- 
necB [draws witches] like anise-seed 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 red string in the morning, — yes, or at any 
time; but it's sure love from a girl if you do, — 
specially silk. And if so be she gives you a red 
string or cord, or a strip of red stuff, that means 
she 'U be bound to you and loves you." 



STBEET 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- 
veraally 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 goosebennes. 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 I 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 Yinland 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- 

n 



162 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

lishman inyeuted 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 so^a, or maritime- 
spun yarn, to the canard^ or duck. The yam 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-buU fountain, — for it embraces 
these objects among its adornments, — presented by 
Cowasie Jehangnire, who added to these magnificent 
Persian names the prosaic English postscript of Ready 
Money. In this his name sets forth the history of 
liis Parsee people, who, from being heroic Ghebers, 
have come down to being bankers, who can i*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, — 

" Sa veduto il mio ^havallo la sera f " 

*^ SV' 

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 ut- 



164 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

uttered in a tone which intimated that if I did not 
answer it affirmatively I might expect anything bat 
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, — 

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

The man's whole manner changed. As if quite 
sober, be said,-T- 

" Mang your shunaJten, rye. But tute Jins chom- 
any. Kuahti 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 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- 
terious gentleman I ever met." 

" Very likely. Good-night." 

" Good night, 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. " Sarishan, 
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 
or4inai'y 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 f 

" 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 — I say more sensible things 




166 ENGUSB GYPSIES. 

Bomaneskas than in English. Ton nnderatand me ? ** 
he exclaimed suddenly, with the same wistful stare. 

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

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

" What do yon 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 sbilliDgs. Bat if you 
chore mandif [cheat roe] and don't leave it at the 
boose, I '11 look you up in the Potteries, and koor tute 
[whip yon]. 

He looked at me very serioosly. " Ah, yes. Toa 
conld koor me kennd [whip me now]. Bat yon 
couldn't have kooredmy dadat [whipped my father]. 
Leastways not afore he got bis 1^ broken figbtin' 
Lancaster Sam. You must have heard of my father, — 
Single-stick Dick. Bnt if yoar 're comin' down to the 
Potteries, don't come next Sanday. Come Sunday 
three weeks. My brother is ttardo kennd for ehorin 
a gry [in prison for hotse-stealing]. In three weeks 
be 'II be let out, and we 're goin' to have a great fam- 
ily party to welcome him, and we '11 be glad to see 
yon. Do come." 

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

I was walking along XIarjIebone Road, which al- 
ways seems to be a worn and wind-beaten street, 
very pretty once, and now repenting it; when juat 
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 cai^eless pedestrian. It always seems 
strange to think of a family being thus conveyed 
with its dinner cooking, the children playing about 
the stoYe, 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. 

" Sarishan rye ! " 

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

" No, sir." 

" I 'ra sorry for that. I have a nice velveteen coat 
which I have been keeping for j'our 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 dou'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 ENGLIsa GYPSIES. 

In half an hoar ihe hoasekeeper, said with a qmet 
smile, — 

" If you please, sir, there 'b a gentlemaii — a gyp*y 
gentleman — wishes to see you." 

It is an English theory that the master can have 
no " Tisitors " who are nob 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 ahout his coat which indicated that he bad 
grown to it from boyhood " in woodis grene." He 
held a heavy-haudled whip, a regular Romany tchupni 
or chuckni, which Mr. Borrow tliinks 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 Wenceslaa) was a determined and vigorous 
specimen of an old-fashioned English gypsy, a type 
whicli, 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-bi-ac. 
And he knew that I waA aware of it. Kow, 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 dowu in an arm-chaic, glanced about him, and 
said just the right thing. 

"It must be a pleasant thing, at the end of the 

', aitPA- one has been rimning about, to come home 

to snch a. room as this, so full of fine things, aud 

sit down in such a comfortable chair." "Will I have 



STREET SKETCHES. 169 

a glass of old ale ? Yes, I thank you." " That is 
kushto 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. 

" What a beautiful little rifle I That 's what I call 
a finkno yag-engree [pretty gun]." 

'^Has it been a wafedo wen [hard winter], An- 
selo ? " 

^^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 : — 

" 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." 



^^^^^ the 
^^^L The 

V 



170 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

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

Bnt visions of a Btoleu horse seemed to haunt An- 
aelo. One would have thought that something of the 
kind had been familiar to iiim. So I sent for the 
Telreteen coat, and, folding it on bis arm, he mounted 
the old white horse, while waving an adiea with the 
heavy-handled whip, rode away in the miet, and was 
seen no more. 

Farewell, farewell, thoo old brown velveteen ! I 
had thee first in by-gone years, afar, hunting fero- 
cioaa fox 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 winr 
ter went with all his raines wete. Farewell, my coat, 
andbenedicite! I bore thee over France unto Mar- 
seillea, and on the steamer where we took aboard two 
hundred Paynim pilgrims of Mahound. Farewell, 
my coat, and benedicite I Thou wert in Naples by 
great Viigil's tomb, and borest dust from Posilippo's 
grot, and bast been wetted by the dainty spray from 
bays and shoals of old Etrurian name. Farewell, my 
coat, and benedicite I And thou wert in the old 
Egyptian realm : I had thee on that morning 'neatb 
the palms when long I lingered where of yore had 
stood the rose-red city, half as old as time. Fai'ewell, 
my eoiit, and benedicite 1 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 
Die whip and silvered spurs. Now all have vanished 
in the darkening past. Ladies and all are gone into 
loom. Farewell, my coat, and benedicite ! 
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 'rfc to know of reck- 
less riding and the gypsy ton, of camps in dark green 
lanes, afar from towns. Farewell, mine coat, and 
benedicite I 



vn. 

07 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 yiew which is perfectly rural. 
The old oaks rise above etich 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 theic 
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. 178 

* 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 f rien' 
the gypsy wanted 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.' ^ 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^ euros extendere 
noK." (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 tompany 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 tyme 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 
<B% et robur chiefs of the Cobbet 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 mort^ — 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 
heyday 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, 
or English thieves' slang. For what is given, in good 
faith, as the gypsy tongue in "Paul Clifford" and the 
" Disowned," is only the same old mumping Icennick 
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 Roma. But what is the use or humanity of d&il- 
lusioning an author by correcting an error forty years 
old. If one could have corrected it in the proof, d la 
bonne heure ! Besides, it was of no particular conse- 
quence to anybody whether the characters in ^' Paul 
Clifford " called a clergyman a patter-cove or a rasfuii. 
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 
is lovely. It becomes every year, with gay boating 
parties in semi-fancy dresses, more of a carnival, in 
which the carnivalers and their camivalentines 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 
did 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 
cause of all the flirtations and other dreadful doings 
in all little outings down to the present day, 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-foar of the small crack- 
ers known as fast girls, in or around society. She 
was a splendid creature, long and lithe and lissom, 
but well rounded, of a figure su^estive of leaping 
hedges ; and as the sun shone on her white teeth and 
burning black eyes, there was a hint of biting, too, 
aboat 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 
genial 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 I 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, — 

" 3£iri pen^ miri hu9hti pen, heng lei tute, md rah- 
her 8d drovdn! Or ma rakker Itomaneakas. Man 
dikesa te rdnia shan akai. Miri kameli — mdn kair 



OF CERTAIN GENTLEMEN AND GYPSIES. 177 

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

"Pew the rani ta wusser mandy a trin-grushi — 
wAo— op, haUo!'' (Tell the lady to shy me a shil- 
ling — whoop I) cried the fast damsel. 

"Pa miri duveU Tcdm^pen — o hero se ta duro. 
Mandy HI dS tute a pash-koratind keratti if tu tevel 
jd. Q-orgie shan i foki kavakoi ! " (For the Lord's 
sake, sister! — the hoat is too far from shore. I'll 
give you half a crown this evening if you '11 clear out. 
These be Gentiles, these here.) 

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

" I am telling het 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 Bon*ow, I knew him, and a grand old fellow 
he was, — a fresh and hearty ^iant, holding his six 
feet two or three inches as uprightly at eighty as he 

12 



.178 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

9 

ever had at eighteen. I believe that was his age, but 
may be wrong. Borrow was like one of the old 
Norse heroes, whom he so much admired, or an old- 
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 fr6m whom I 
obtained the information. 

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

''A ready trick tried Hildebrand, 
That old, gray-bearded man; 
For when the yoanger 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 Bye " 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 

sport in the world, and I owe my love of it all to 
George Borrow. I have since heard that a part of 
Mr. Sorrow's " Romano Lavo-Lil " had been in man- 
uscript for thirty yeara, 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 
f or /^ 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 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

America is a far better place in which to stady the 
language than England. As an old Scotch gypsy 
said to me lately, the deepest and cleverest old gyp- 
sies all come oyer here to America, where they have 
grown rich, and built the old language lip again. 

I knew a gentleman in London who was a man of 
extraordinary energy. Having been utterly mined, 
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 frieild 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 
sboulder-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 hira 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 to 



OF CERTAIN GENTLEMEN AND 

reflect that I have nothing but pleasant xvl 
the good old Romany rye, the Nestor of gyp 
tlemen. It is commonly reported among gypsies 
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 "Geoi^e Eliot" and G. H. 
Lewes, at their house in North Bank, the lady turned 
the conversation almost at once to gypsies. They 
spoke of haying 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 chiroraanced to the 
Romany clan of the latter city. To tell the fortunes 
of , gypsy girls was, he thought, the refinement of pre- 
sutn])tion. " Tliere 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 palmistiy 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 new to me. This fact 
should make all smart gypsy scholars *'take tent" 
and heed as to believing that they know everything. 



tiNGLISH GYPSIES. 

«ny Anglo-Romany words — purely Hindi as 
^ — which I have verified again and again, yet 

rfch have never appeared in print. Thus far the 
iiomany 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 oureelves 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 they conduct their sports. 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. 188 

tbat 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, "-<4A bah ! " 
Eeader mine, I have seen many a fSte 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 qui^t beauty give 
me a merry 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 Jearned 
a little of their language. Yes, he was inclined to be 
^^affected" into the race, and thereupon we went 
gypsying. 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, 
for 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- 
Yolved 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-nutfi, a young gypsy chaij 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 properi^ minus 
prosper^. 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, — 

"JR '« 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 clan. Up 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 
applaudera, 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 dovni 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 suntf (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 ENGU8H GYPSIES. 

me. Some in America, some wBodering wide. Tefc 
tliere by Weybridge still the Thames rons on. 

By that sweet riTer I made many a song. One of 
these, to the tone qt ^ Waves in Sunlight Dancing,** 
rises and foils in memory like a fitful faiiy coming 
and going in green shadows, and that it may not 
perish ntteriy I here giye it a place: — 

ATELLA PABL O PlHL 

At* koshto pari o piai, 

AT'knthtoBiii'alail 
Mi kameli cfaorOuuii, 

Arel ht tiio rjre I 

Sbaa raklia rinkenidiri, 

Mnkkellan linkeni se ; 
Kek nUi 'di€ i temia 

Be mkenidiri mL 

Shan dndnidixi jikka, 

Mokkelan dadeni; 
Kek 7ikk peshel' ak knahfci 

Pimiro 



Shan baUa longi dizi, 
Makk 'lende bori 'pi€, 

Kek waTeri raklia balia, 
Te lian man oprd. 

Yen lela angnrtriiii, 

I miri t&cheni, 
Kek warer mfiah jinellay 

Sft dOTO OOTYa 86. 

Adr^, adr^ o doejar 
Fatrinia pellelan, 

Kenna yek chnmer k^o 
O warero well' ia. 

Te wenna butidiri, 
Ke jana sig akoi 



OF CERTAIN GENTLEMEN AND GYPSIES. 187 

Sa sig sa yeck si gillo 
Slum waveri adoi. 

Ayella pari o pani, 

Avella sig akai ! 
Mi kamli tfini-rfini 

Ayell' ke tiio rye I 



COMB OVEB THE BIYEB. 

loTO, come o'er the water, 
O love, where'er 70a he I 

Mj own sweetheart, 1117 darling. 
Come orer the lirer to me ! 

If any gurls 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 erer canght me so. 

She wears upon her finger 

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

Enow what the ring can tell. 

Prom trees into the water 
Leayes fall and float away. 

So kisses come and leare ns, 
A thousand in a day. 

Tet thoagh they come by thousands, 
Tet still they show their face ; 



188 ENGLISH GYPSIES. 

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

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

My own sweetheart, my darling. 
Come over the rirer to me 1 



:a 



rit 



WELSH GYPSIES. 



L 

MAT WOODS THE UDDLER 

Thb 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 comers, 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 Rpples 
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-arbanc, 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 singalar 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 yoa tbink yoa see it coming out of the syna- 
gogue, unless it be a very Tulgar 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 f^^ 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 fre%co fire. " I have prayed to see this 
day I"' exclaimed the gjrpsy 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 wcmderful 
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 iJong. 

** 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, ^' Se '9 the man I " 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. 198 

• 

imperative tones, "beer" — sixpenny beer — for him- 
self and ^Hhe 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 foi^ 
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 isn't proper for me to eat at the table 
with you, or aB you do." 

The Welsh gypsy played well, and his sister touched 
the harp and sang, the aJe 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 pa9 aeul 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 

18 



194 WELSH GYPSIES, 

possible that prelustorically, and beyond all records 
of Persian Luri and Syrian Ballerine and Egyptian 
Almeb, 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- 
bom Romany itinerants singing, piping, and dancing 
unto all the known world ; yea, and into the unknown 
darkness beyond, in partibus 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^ 
duiy tririj sktor^ i?«^*r — he 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 Tiovf 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 
already concluded, and what faith could we put in 
duhkerin f But as it would indubitably bring forth 
shillings to their benefit, they wisely raised no ques- 
tions, but calmly took this windfall, which had fallen, 



MAT WOODS THE FIDDLER. 196 

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 t/ou 
believe in that ?) With a wink, I answered, " Why 
not? I, too, tell fortunes myself." Anch to Bono 
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 talk to him in Romany. 

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

"You don't understand me I" exclaimed the for- 
tune-teller. " Perhaps you did n'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 OTPSIES. 

to mef Tkm'i I know our people? Didn^t yonr 
friend tliere talk Romanes? Isn't he all Romanes- 
kas? And did n't I hear yoa with my own ears 
ooont up to ten in Romany ? And now, aft«r that, 
yon wonld deny yonr own blood and people I Yes, 
you Ve dwelt in Goi^^es so long that yoa think 
yonr eyes are blue and yonr hair is yellow, my son, 
and yoa have been br over the sea ; but wherever you 
went yoa knew Romanes, if yon don't know your own 
color. But you shall hear yonr fortune. Tliere 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 yoa will know 
something you don't know now before a month is 
over, and something will be found that is now hid- 
den, and has been bidden since the world was made. 
And there 's a good fortune comiog to the man it was 
made for, before the oldest tree tbat 's avowing was 
a seed, and that 's a man as knows bow to count 
Romanes ap to ten, and many a more thing beside 
that, that he 's learned beyond the great water." 

And so we went our ways, the 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 
again, though I often heard of his fame as a fiddler. 
Whether my Anglo-Indian friend found the fortune 
so vaguely ]>reiiicted is to me as yet unknown. Bnt 
I believe that the prediction encouraged him. That 
there ure evils in palmistry, and sin in card-drawing, 
and iniquity in coffee'-groonding, and vice in all the 



MAT WOODS THE FIDDLER, 197 

planetE^ is established by statute, and yet withal I 
incline to believe that the art of prediction cheers np 
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 hava 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. 



THK PI0D8 WASHKBWOICAH. 

Thsbb IB DOt rnadt in life pleasanter than a loi^ 
ramble od the road in leaf-green, sun-gold sammer. 
Then it is Nature's merry-tinie, when fowls in woods 
them maken blithe, and the crow preaches from the 
fence to his friends afield, and the honeysackle wink- 
eth to the wild rose in tlie hedge when she is wooed 
by the little bazzy bee. In snch times it is good for 
the heart to wander over the hills and far away, into 
hanntB known of old, where perhaps some semi-Saxon 
church nestles in a hollow behind a hill, where grass 
o'ei^rowB each monlderiog 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 tongae by the thou- 
sand-year yew as it rustles in the breeze. And when 
there are Runic stones in this g;irden of God, where 
He raises souls, 1 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, 
and now archery is dead and Martini-Henry has taken 
its place, but the yewa still live, and the Runic fine 
art of the twisted lines on the tombs, after a thou- 
sand yeare' 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 aU memories of a walk from the town 




THE PIOUS WASHERWOMAN. 199 

of Aberystwith, in Wales, ^hioh walk leads by an 
ancient church, in the soul garden of whicli are two 
Runic cross tombstones. One day I went farther 
afield to a more ancieilt shrine, on the top of a^ high 
mountain. This was to the summit of Cadeir^ 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. 
Tl^t he can be, as I have elsewhere noted, a Persian 
unto Persians, and a Romany among Roms, and a 
pirofessional 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 tben confide in him as if be and 
in-doors had never been acquainted. 

We had taken with us a sparing lunch of thin 



200 WELSH GYPSIES. 

sandwiches and a frugal flask of modest, blushing 
brandy, which we dilated at a stingy little fountain 
spring which dropped economicaUy 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 &ice 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 her 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 pocket. The younger smoked 
in silence. I was greatly moved myself, — perhaps 
bewildered would be the better word, — when, all at 
once, as the old woman turned in the sunlight, I 
caught the expression of the corner of an eye! 



THE PIOUS WASHERWOMAN. 201 

My friend Salaman, ^ho 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 from 
. the confounded Goyim, by the comers of their eyes. 
This he illustrated by pointing out to me, as they 
walked by in the cool of the evening, the difiEerence 
between the eyes of Fraulein Eleonora Eobn and 
Senorita Linda Abarbanel and divers and sundry 
other young ladies, — the result being that I received 
in return thirty-six distinct oeillades^ 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 rakker Momanes^ miri dye f " (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 langaages." 

The younger professor's eyes expressed dawning 
delight. I followed my shot with, — 

*^ Tute need vCt he attrash to rakker. Mandy^s been 
aprS 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 1 " 

** 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. 
Comix scorpum rapuit^ — the owl had come down on 
the rabbits, and lo I they had fangs. I resumed, — 

" Now, old lady, here is a penny. You are a very 
poor person, and I pity you so much that I give you 
this penny for your poverty. But there is a pocket- 



THE PIOUS WASHERWOMAN. 208 

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

And at that touch of the Ithnriel 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- 
light 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 the 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-aong tone, mocking the style of 



204 WELSH GYPSIES. 

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

" You 're bom under a lucky star, my good gentle- 
man, and yon '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 " I exclaimed, and with 
a grim expression^ casting up my palm, I said, — 

" Pen mengy if mandy HI be bitchadS pddel for 
chorin a gry^ or naaherdo for mMn a gav-muBh.^^ 
(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 '11 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 
couldn'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 memory 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 Yala 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 Romanys 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 bj 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 
nets, and sent it to the Aberystwith 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 soRcvla sceculorum. Truly, the day which had 
begun with a witch ended fitly enough at the tomb of 
a prophet poet. 



m. 

THE GTFSIES AT ABEBYSTWITH. 

Abebystwith is a little fishing-village, whicli has 
of late years first bloomed as a railwaynstation, and 
then fruited into prosperity as a bathing-place. Like 
many parvemis^ it makes a great display of its Nor- 
man ancestor, the old castle, saying little aboat 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 nmning 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, 
altbongh dressed. Bat when it was urged that the 
Aberystwith system was somewhat peculiar, she re- 
plied, ^ Oh, that is a very different thing I " 

On which words for a text a carious 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 Zealander, 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 fifteen minutes of bowing, re-bowing, surre- 
bowing, and rejoinder-bowing, with complementary 
complimenting, according to old custom, while the 
worship of Mrs. Grundy 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 cold 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 GYPSIES AT ABERYSTWITH. 209 

find himself promptly put down in the menu. In 
Fiji, as in all other ooantries, 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 devourers of the poor" are the 
scomers of the humble and lowly, and they are all 
grains of the same com, 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 Slite " 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 cei*tain 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 ?^ 
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." 

1 Tht Past in the Present, part 2, lect. 8. 
14 



210 WELSH GYPSIES. 

** Sach things are spoken of as marks of a high civili- 
zation, or by those who do not confound ciyilization 
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 flannel shirt and shooting- 
jacket? Do not ^well-constituted' men want to 
fish 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 ha ragione (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 



THE GYPSIES AT ABERYSTWITH, 211 

cordon to separate ^* sassiety '' 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. U^ub 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 conventioual, 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 
tbat imperturbability which was once declared by an 
eminent Philadelphian to be <Hhe Corinthian orna- 
ment of a gentleman." He who said this builded 
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 tents. 
He could not talk Romany. 



212 WELSH GYPSIES. 

This was really pitiable. It was too much. The 
Palmer informed him that he was wasting 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 
jih^ or black language. The grinder was as calm as a 
Belgravian image. And as we turned to depart the 
professor said, — 

^^Mandffd del ttUe a shahori to pi more hammor 
betij if tute jinned aa mandi ptikkersJ** (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 
conwivial 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 app'intment, to meet some 
Romany pals." 

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



THE GYPSIES AT ABERYSTWITH. 218 

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 indifEerence 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 indifEerence, 
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 
Yon dem versoff'nen Pfannenschmied, 
Und wer's nlcht weiter singen kann, 
Der fang's Yon Yome wieder an.' 



n 



'T will erer be the same old song 
Of tipsy tinkers* all day long, 
And he who cannot sing it more 
Maj sing it overi as before. 

I should have liked to know John Bunyan. As a 
half-rblood 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 
lie 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- 
sing, Philadelphia, did nearly the same thing, only 
that instead of making his stool leg into a musical 



214 WELSH GYPSIES. 

pipe lie converted it into a pipe for tobacco. Bat 
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 poisoned the at- 
mosphere. And he did n't like it." And thus history 
repeats itself. 'T is all very well for the sticklers for 
Wesleyan 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- 
em " 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 are 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. I can recall a powerful and 
tall young man, with a badly expressive face, one- 
legged, and well dressed as a sailor. . He 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. Tet this house was in its way upper class. 
It was iu,t a den of despair, dirt, and misery, and eren 
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 Bperanza,^^ (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- 
6i*gy 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 
diadect, 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 veiy 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 gi'eat 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 ABERYSTWITH, 217 

ining to the lodging-house, he would cunningly 
TOW my knife, and then disappear. Presently the 
iz-whiz, sfst of his wheel would be heard without, 
1 then the artful dodger would reappear with a 
imphant smile, and with the knife sharpened to 
*azor edge. Anent which gratitude I shall have 
re to say anon. 

Dne day I was walking on the Front, when I over- 
•k a gypsy van, loaded with baskets and mats, 
nbering along. The proprietor, who was a stranger 
me, was also slightly or lightly lumbering in his 
t, being cheerfully beery, while his berry brown 
:e, with a little three-year-old boy, peddled wares 
m door to door. Both were amazed and pleased 
being accosted in Komany. In the course of con- 
nsation they showed great anxiety as to their child, 
lO had long suffered from some disorder which 
ised them great alarm. The man's first name 
3 Anselo, though it was painted Onslow on his 
aide. Mr. Anselo, though himself just come to 
vn, was at once deeply impressed with the duty 
hospitality to a Romany rye. I had called him 
ly and this in gypsydom involves the shaking of 
ads, and with the better class an extra display of 
artesy. He produced half a crown, and declared 
I willingness to devote it all to beer for my benefit, 
leclined, but he repeated his offer several times, — 
t with any annoying display, but with a courteous 
mestness, intended to set forth a sweet sincerity. 
J I bade him good-by, he put the crown-piece into 
e eye, and as he danced backward, gypsy fashion 
• the street and vanished in the sunny purple twi- 
;ht towards the sea I could see him winking with 
9 other, and hear him cry, *' Don't say no — now 's 
e last chance — do I hear a bid ? " 



218 WELSH GYPSIES, . 

We found this family in dae 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 miles 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 piadli is the same thing with a 
boshto." 

" 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 BVont, 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 yiolinist, 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 
cotiple. They always seemed to me in the house 
like two wild birds, and tropical ones at that, in a 
cage. 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 deyoted to his poor wife, so was Anselo and his 
dame devoted to their child. He was, indeed, a braye 
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 natiye 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 he 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 
had 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 ABERTSTWITH. 221 

Seyen Dials has been heard to say he would ^* acarpef 
with the feele of the donna of the casaey;^^ which 
means, ran 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 delta caaa. Most costermongers 
call a penny a saltee^ from soldo ; a crown, a earoon ; 
and one half, madza^ from mezza. They count as 
follows : — 

ITJLLIJLH. 

Oney saltee, a penny Uno soldo. 

Dooey saltee, twopence Dui soldi. 

Tray saltee, threepence Tre soldi. 

Qaarterer saltee, fourpence .... Quattro soldi. 

Chinker saltee, fivepence . • . • . Cinque soldi. 

Say saltee, sixpence Sei soldL 

Say oney saltee, or setter saltee, seven- 
pence Sette sold*. 

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

Say tray saltee, or nobba saltee, nine- 
pence Nove soldL 

Say qaarterer saltee, or dacha (datsha) 

saltee, tenpence Dieci soldL 

' 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 earoon, half a crown .... Mezza corona. 

Mr. Hotten says that he could never discover the 
derivation of leong^ or heonk. It is very plainly the 
Italian bianco^ white, which, like llanc 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 »go in England, 
that burglars or other thieves always earned 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 wofiffur, a corruption of the better 
word angar, which also means a hot coal; and braise^ 
in French argSt^ 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 pecharn^ coal. In the six kinds of fire 
mentioned in the Talmud,^ there is no identification 
of coals with money ; but m the German 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 

^ Yoma, fol. 21, coL 2. 



"1 



THE GYPSIES AT ABERYSTWITH. 228 

expression or such unaffected dignity. It was the 
whole poem of ^' Crescentius " liying in modem 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 " may, 
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 
oj}her 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 Eomany. 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 gi^eat soul for ) 
all that. Both she and her husband were of the old 
type of their race, now so Tare 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 yelyeteen coat, and 
had on a broad, soft felt hat. 

** You talk as the old Eomanys did," said the old 
man. ^' 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. Bat when I was still young, a few of the 
oldest ISioxmxij chaU 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 «owZ," 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 
study ; 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 seals and chackled with 
fiendish glee at having managed things so charmingly. 
But it will be long ere I forget how the old man's 
eye looked into the past as he recalled, — 

'* The bat of antique shape and coat of gray, 
The same the gypsies wore/' 

and went &r 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 e'er went 
from Dunsinane, 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 
tiibe." 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 imdeveloped, intuitive 

16 



226 WELSH GYPSIES. 

perception, which a Bympatbetic mind aoqoires from 
them, — nay, is compelled to acquire, oat of mere 
self-defense ; and when gained, it manifests itself in 
many forms, 

'* Bat it needf heaTan-fe&t moments for tliis skiU.'* 



v'iiM; 



ICAN GTPSIE& 



I. 

GTPSIES 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. H fawl 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 I 
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 1 " Well, 't is a kusJdo tern for kdsht " 



228 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

(a fair land for timber), as a vary decent Annoni- 
ehal said to me one afternoon. It was thinking of 
him which led me to these lemarfa. 

I had gone with my niece — who speaks Bomany 
— ont to a gypsyiy by OaUands Piu^k, and found 
there one of oar good people, with his wife and chil- 
dren, in a tent. Hard by was the wagon and the 
horse, and, after the nsoal initiatory amazement at 
being accosted in the kdlojib^ or black language, had 
been snrviyed, we settled down into conyersation. 
It was a fine antumnal day, Indian-summery, — the 
many in one of all that is fine in weather all the 
world oyer, put into a single glorious sense, — a 
sense of bracing air and sunshine not oyer-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 
oyer the sea. Only one thing he had not heard, the 
death of old Gentilla Cooper, of the Devil's Dyke, 
near Brighton, for I had just received a letter &om 
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 RomanyB do. Yes, but I 'm 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^ry [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 farmera 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 
ehinamdngri [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, ver}*^ little, indeed, but it is astonishing how many 
Romany s come out of it over here. Do I notice any 
change in them oftet 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- 
sy, although his getting drunk is too often regulated 
or limited simply by his means, seldom shows in his 
person the results of long-continued intemperance. 



230 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

LiTing in the open air, taking much exemse, con- 
stantly practicing boxing, r6Dgh 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 coming 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 for 
the cleverness of gypsies that they can actually make 
a living by trading horses in New Spain. 

It is very true that in many parts of America the 
wanderers are welcomed with feux de joie^ or with 
salutes of shot-guns, — the guns, unfortunately, being 



GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 281 

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 efiEectually further 
depredation, caused her to pass ^^ through flames ma- 
terial and temporal unto flames immaterial and eter- 
nal ; " that is to say, they burned Iftr 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 sufiEering 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 



282 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

speak at first in Bomany. Let ns 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 yoa 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 sayings or in what 
language, she cried, — 

" Dordi ! CarCt tute pen dukkerin ? " (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 ? " 

" Oh I mendui shorn bori ehovihani / " 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 with a dollar, 
and I '11 tell you as big a lie as you ever penned a 
galderli Giorgio [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 : 
a horidiri [very great] lady she is, and true Romany, 
— flick the jib te rinkeni adosta [quick of tongue 
and fair of face]. Well, I am glad to see you." 

" Who is that talking there ? " cried a man's voice 



GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 288 

from within tbe 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 us 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. 
Tbe 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. 

" jIA kennd tute dikka rinkeni — now you 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 I " 

Here L. took off the diklo^ or handkerchief, and 
passed it round the gypsy woman's head, and tied it 
under her chin, saying, — 



284 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

m 

^^ I am sure it becomes you much more than it does 
me. Now you look nice : — 

** ' Bod and yellow for Bomanj, 

And bine and pink for the Goi^ee.' " 

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 my 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 IvJlo diklo [red handkerchief]. She looked like 
all the sorceresses oi Thessaly and Egypt in one, and, 
as Bulwer says of the Witch of Vesuvius, was all the 
more terrible for having been beautiful." 

Some time after this we went, with Britannia Lee, 



GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 286 

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 Camden 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. 
An revoirJ*^ 

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 kekno adoV^ (There 's nobody there.) 
^^Dordt!^^ cried Britannia, ^^Dikkava me o tuv te 
tan te wardoJ] [I see a smoke, a tent, a wagon.] I 
declare, it is my puro paly 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 rdniB^ 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-bom 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 



2S6 AMERICAN OYPSIES. 

\ straigbtfonrard tlutn most of bis race in Koropew 
, All Ronianys are polite, bat maoy of tbe EuropeaD 
kind are most nncomfortably and unconscioaal; naive. 
Straage that tbe most inaocent people sboald be 
tboae wlio most offend morality. I knew a lady 
once — Heaven grant that I may never meet with 
such another I — who had been perfectly educated 
in entire parity of booI. And 1 never knew any 
devergondie who could so shock, shame, and p^n 
decent people as this Agnes did in her sweet igno- 
rance. 

" I shall never forget the first day yon came to my 
camp," said W. to Britannia. "All, yoa astonished 
me then. Yoa might have knocked me down with a 
feathet. And I did n't know what to say. You 
came in a carriage with two other ladies. And yon 
jumped ODt first, and walked op to me, and cried, 

• Sa'shdn ! ' That atnnned me, but I answered, 

* Sa'ihdnJ' Then I did n't Bpeak 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 yon. 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 thoQglit you mnat be a witch." 

"jlwer me shorn ckovikani " (but I am a witch), 
cried the lady. " Mukka menjd adr4 o tan." (Let 
us go into the tent.) So we entered, and sat round the 
fire, and asked news of all the wanderers of tbe roads, 
and the yoing kdifia, having filled their pockets with 
sweets, produced tUeni for the children, and we were 
RB much iit liome as we had ever been in any salon ; 
for it was a familiar scene to ne all, thoogh it wonld, 
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 — hien 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, 
f^el 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 
are 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" 



288 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

to Dfttnre and art, when, in fact, they live it. I 
sometii^es 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 THBEE GTPSIES. 

I B8W three gjpsj men, one day, 

Camped in a field together, 
As mj wagon went its weary waj. 

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 pnfied 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 ^ lying, 
Over its strings the breezes played. 

O'er his heart a dream went flying. 

1 Zimbd, The cymbal of the Austrian gypsies is a stringed Instru- 
ment^ like the zitter. 



OYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 239 

Ragged enough were all the three, 

Their garments in holes and tatters ; 
Bat 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. 



TBIN BOMANI CHALIA. 

I>ikdom me trin geeria 
S&r yeckno a tacho Rom, 

S& miro wardo ghias adur 
Apr€ a waf edo drom. 

O yeckto sos boshengoro, 
Tnv kellde pes-kokero^ 

O kamlo^lud te pereltf 
Sos Inllo apr€ lo. 

O duito 8&r a swSgele 

Dikde 'pr^ lestes ttlr, 
Ne kamde kiimi, penava mi 

'"Dti s&r o midilrels p^y. 

O trinto sorad^ kushto-b&k 
Lest 'zimbel adr^ mkk se, 

O barol kelld' pr^ i tavia, 
O sntto 'pr6 leskro xi. 

Te sar i lengheri rudaben 
Shan katterdi-chingerdo 

Awer me penav' i Romani chals 
Ke kesserden chi pfi lo. 



240 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

Trin dromia lende rikkezden, kaa 
S&r dikela wafedo, 

Ta bosher, tuyer te soye-a-M 
Aja A bachtalo. 

Dikdom palal, 8& ghiom adar 
Talla yeckno Romani chal 

Tr€ lengheri kali-braani mfd, 
Te iengheri k£li baL 



11. 

. THE CEOCUS-^PITCHEB.1 
(fhiuldblphia.) 

It was a fine spring noon, and the comer 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 virtaes of a medicine which was certainly 
patent in being spread out by him to extrei^est 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, whUe 
his fluent patter and unabashed boldness showed a 
long famiUarity 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 

^ Crocus, in common slang an itinerant qnackymoantebank, or idler 
of medicine ; Pitrher, a street dealer. 

16 



242 AMiERICAN GYPSIES, 

indicatioiis, they wete 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 yon waiting/* he said. ^ I am al- 
ways sorry to detain a select and genteel audience. 
Bat I was detained myself by a very interesting inci- 
dent. I was inyited to Innch with a wealthy Grerman 
gentleman ; a very wealthy Grerman^ I say, one of the 
pillars of your city and front door-step of your coon- 
cil, and who would be the steeple of your exchange, 
if it had one. And on arriying at his house he re- 
marked, ^ Toctor, by tarn 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 '11 die pooty quick- 
sudden.' Unfortunately I had with me, gentlemen, 
but a single dose of my world-famous Gypsy's Elixir 
and Romany Pharmacopheionepenth^. (That is the 
name, gentlemen, but as I detest quackery I term 
it simply the Gypsy's Elixir.) When the German 
gentleman learned that in all probability but one life 
could be saved he said, ^ Yell, denn, doctor, subbose 
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 vom- 
ans in town dat can gook mine sauer-kraut ash she 
do.' Fortunately, gentlemen, I found in an unknown 
comer 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. 248 

charged half a dollar yesterday I 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 'U take the half dollar.") 

All of this had been spoken with the utmost yolu- 
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^ 8ir, Save vHt you the change f 
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 for 
breakfast. And they would n*t bay a bottle of my 
Grypsy's Elixir till they heard it was good for the 
Constitation, 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 
into 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 
so well, if you come to that vongre^' (waistcoat). 

" 'T is n't that, — \ is n't the clothes. It 's the air 



THE CROCUS-PITCBER. 246 

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 f 
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 G-oyim. No, I cam't rdkker^ or none 
to speak of, and noways as deep as you, though I was 
bom 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 busmess when he drops his 
A's. A man can do anything when he must, and I 
must talk fluently and correctly to succeed in such a 
busiuBEdl. Would 1 like a drop of something f You 
paid for the last, now you must take a drop with me. 
Do I know of any Romanys in tovmt Lots of them. 
Tl^ere is a ken in Lombard Street with a regular fly 
mort, — but on second thoughts we won't go there, — 

and — oh, I say — a very nice place in Street. 

The landlord is a Yahud ; his wife can rakker you, 
I 'm sure. She '« 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 
for; they owe nothing to society for kindness, and 



246 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

yet they are held eyen more strictly to aocoant 
by the law than if they had been regcdarly Sunday- 
schooled from babyhood. This man when he spoke 
of Itomanys did not mean real gypsies ; he used the 
word as it occars in Ainsworth's song of 



•( 



Nix my dolly, pals fake away. 
And here I am both tight and free, 
A regnlar rollicking Bomany.* 



i> 



For he meant Bohemian in its widest and wildest 
sense, and to him all that was apart from the world 
was Mb world, whether it was Rom or Tahadi, 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. 

^^Scheikerfiir michy der Isch will Jain aoreff shaake- 
nen " (Beer for me and brandy for him), I said to the 
landlord, who at once shook my hand and saluted me 
with Sholem! 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 cents 
more for it than I had given for a similar case the 



THE CROCUS-PITCHEIL 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 ahichum^ 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. Sow did I learn it f 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, * Very likely ; I thought your wife sold 'em to 
me 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. 

Bell 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 
comers, 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 Ve 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. Sow 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. 

Most he a miUtaire ; 
We like to see a swell come 

Who looks so distingue, 
So let ns bid him welcome, 

And hope he '11 iBnd as gay.* 

" The last half can be used for anybody. That 's 
the way the improvisatory business is managed 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 
old 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, coming close on to it and calling myself one. 
Why, I Ve been called into a regular considtation 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, 
bdt 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. 
Just 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 



260 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

Bomanys. Oo ont on the road four miles, and you 'U 
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 adyertisement 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. 



IIL 

GTPSIES IN CAMP. 

(NBW JBB8BT.) 

Thb Weather had put on his yeiy worst clothes, 
and was never so hard at work for the agrionltoral 
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 themselyes, and both with the Ro- 
mans, — which was the time when the Shahet^ 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 
only see him." 



252 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

The booaes became fewer as I went on, till at last 
I reacbed tbe place near wbicb I knew tbe gypsies 
must be camped. As is tbeir custom in England, 
tbey bad so estabUsbed themselyes as not to be seen 
from tbe road. Tbe instinct wbicb tbey dispkiy in 
tbos getting near people, and yet keeping oat of ibeir 
sigbt, e^en as rats do, is remarkable. I thongbt I 
knew tbe town of Brighton, in England, tboroogbly, 
and bad explored all its nooks, and wondered that I 
bad neyer found any gypsies there. One day I went 
oat with a Romany acquaintance, who, in a short 
time, took me to half a dozen tenting-places, round 
comers in mysterious by-ways. It often happens 
that tbe spots which they select to hatch the tan^ or 
pitch the tent, are picturesque bits, such as artists 
love, and all gypsies are fully appreciatiye 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 
Pennsylyania, a riyer dell, which any artist would 
giye a day to yisit, 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- 
vermanns and belated walks by the Thames, and of 
Salvator Rosa. Ask me why I haunt gypsydom I 
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 dwell 



GYPSIES IN CAMP. 268 

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 in the degert, I loye to ride, 
With the silent bosh-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 ^e flux causes the fire to melt 
the gold ? 

I left the road, turned the comer, 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 yans, 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 
oyer 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, 

" Duro pardel the boro poni," 
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 



I. 



254 AMERICAS GYPSIES. 

reiTers, of a wUd moonlit flitting and crossing black 
roaiing torrents, drawn all the while by the neck, as a 
Tarcoman pulls a Persian prisoner on an "alamsn," 
with a rope, into captivity, and finally of being sold 
onto the Egyptians. I drew near a tent: all was 
silent, as it always is in a tan when the foot-fall of 
the stranger ia heard ; bat I knew that it was packed 
with inhabitants. 

I called in Romany my greeting, and bade some- 
body come out. And there appeared a powerfnlly 
built, dark-browed, good-looking man of thirty, who 
was as gypsy as Plato himself. He greeted me very 
civilly, bat with some surprise, and asked me what 
he could do for me. 

" Aek me in out of the rain, pal," I replied. " Ton 
don't suppose I 've come four miles to see you and 
stop out here, do yoa ? " 

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 
with the dull gleam of a smoldering fire, producing a 
perfect Rembrandt blending of rosy-red with dreamy 
half-darkness. It was a real wltcb-anra, 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 " heshing apr4 ye pus " (ait^ 
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 
cage ; and I saw in a. second that, with men and all, 
I was in a party who were anything but milksops ; 



r 



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 oyer the 
sea — when I saw this, and knew they were not did- 
dikais^ or half-breed mumpers. On the other side, 
seyeral young people, among them three or four good- 
looking girls, were eating theur 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. SartBhan ! " 

And I received, as I expected, a cordial welcome. 
I waj3 invited to sit down and eat, but excused myself 
as having just come from hdhhen^ 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 onoe 
to talk it very fluently, withont a word of English, 
with the intention of testing me ; bat as I understood 
her perfectly, and replied with a burning gosh 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 j 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 
aU 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 USL 
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 dram, the 'rain pattered 
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 iu song. 
To do this one most 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 ruBtling leaves and the summer orchestra of frogs 
and crickets and rippling grass. Those who hear 
tU« TQ-Dsic and think to it never think about it; 
those \vh'> lire only in books never sing to it in eoul. 
Ab there iira dreams which will not be remembered 
or knovni to reason, so this music shrinks from it. It 
is wonderful how beauty perishes like a shade-grown 



GYPSIES IN CAMP. 267 

flower before the snnlight of analysis. It is dying 
out all the world oyer in women, under the influence 
of cleverness and ^^ style ; " it is perishing in poetry 
and art before criticism ; it is wearing away from man- 
Hness, through priggishness ; it is being crushed out 
of true gentleness of heart and nobility of soul by 
the pessimist puppyism of miching Mallockos. 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 I . 

^' 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 ?) 

JDum^ dum, dumy patter^ patter^ dum ! played the 
rain. 

^^ Avail I dikked your romus kaliko " (I saw your 
husband yesterday), remarked some one aside to a 
girl. 

Dam^ 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 I 

^^ He is a first-rate dog, but mine 's as good." 

Dum, dum, dum, patter, dum! 

^^ Tacho I There 's money to be made by a gen- 
tleman like you by telling fortunes." 

17 



858 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

Dwn^ dum^ dum^ patter ^ dum ! 

^ Yes, a fiye-hundred-dollar hit sometimes. But, 
dye^ I work upon a better lay." 

Dum^ dumy dum^ patter ^ dum ! 

^^ Perhaps you are a baro drabengro *' (a great 
physician). 

Dum^ dum^ dum, patter, dum ! 

^^ 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." 

Dwm, dum, dum, patter, dum ! 

^* And what a wind I It blows as if the good Lord 
were singing I Eusbti chirus se atch arkerri." 
(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." 

Dwm, dum^ dum, patter, dum ! 

^^ Do not hurry away I 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 CAMP. 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, — 

Dum^ dum, dum^ patter ^ dum I 



IV. 

HOUSE GYPSIES IN FHLADELPHIA. 

This chapter was written bj 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 
— idl 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 
cafi au lait^ or coffee much milked, up to the browned 
or black-scorched berry itself, while the very athletcB 
were coal-black. They wore blue overalls, ai^ 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 Jiaik 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 ovire meVj 
we become artistically eloquent ; but it rarely occurs 



HOUSE GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 261 

to sketchers and word-painters to do much bosiness 
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 OiveB sum Momanua (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 f " (Are you an Italian ?) asked 
my uncle. 

" Sij signore " (Yes, sir), he answered^ showing all 
his white teeth, and opening his big brown eyes very 
wide. 

" JS come lei piace questo paese f " (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 



282 AMEmCAN GYPSIES. 

model tor an artist, for he had what we do not always 
see in Italians, the real sonthem 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-foil, 
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 canght her eye I saw the indescrib- 
ble flash of the kalorat^ or black blood. It is very 
curious that Hindus, Persians, 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. 

Vere writes, " It must not be forgotten that the hu- 
man eye has, beyond question, often a power which 
far transcends the or^ary 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 '« a kuskto puro rinkeno kSr adoiJ*^ (That 
is a nice old pretty house there.) 

" Avail, 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 cowa setarakker a jib te kek Q-orgio 
jinellaJ^ (It 's nice to talk a language that no Gen- 
tile knows.) 

The red shawl was on the trail. " Je crais que 
fa 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 ? " 

"*' J.vaA," I replied, ^^mendui rdkker %arja adovo 
Jib. Butikumi tyeskro lis se denna Q-orgines" (Yes, 
we always talk that language. Much more genteel 
it is than English.) 

" Te adovo wavero rye f " (And that other gentle- 
man?) with a glance of suspicion at our artist 
friend. 

" Sar taeho " (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. 

18 a natural sympatiiy and intelligence between Bo* 
hemians of eyery grade, all the world over, and I 
neyer knew a gypey who did not nnderstand an art- 
ist. One glance satisfied her that he was quite 
worthy of our society. 

**Aud where are yon tannin kenndf** (tenting 
now), I inquired. 

^^ We are not tenting at this time of year ; we 're 
AratWn," t. ^., house-ing, or home-ing. It is a good 
Terb> and might be introduced into English. 

** And where is your house ? " 

««There,rightby Mammy Sauerkraut's Bow. Gome 
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 canvas and poles, a kettle and a sarshtay 
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 sarshta^ 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. 

We ent-ered 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 ihe maimer in which its occupants sat around, 
the tent and the wagon. There was a bed, it is true. 



HOUSE GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA, 265 

but there was a roll of sail-clotfa, which evidently did 
duty for sleeping on at night, but which now, rolled 
up, acted the part described by Goldsmith : — 

*' A thing contriyed a doable part to play, 
A bed by night, a sofa during day." 

There was one chair and a saddle, a stove and a 
chest of drawers. I observed an engraving hanging 
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 boy 
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 the 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." 

The^ 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 
the 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, — 

" Ter come here to have yer fortune told. I '11 
tell it to yer for five cents." 

" Can tube pen duhherin aja f " (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 QTP8IES. 

oito glory of the seventh sphere, her ooontenance 
coald not have manifested more amazement. She 
stood bouche beanU, stock still staring, open-moathed 
vide. I believe one might have pat a brandy ball 
into it, or a "bull's eye," withoat her jaws closing 
on the dainty. It was a stare of twenty-four carats, 
and fourth proof. 

" This here rye" remarked mine ancle, affably, in 
middle English, " is a bartist. He pota 'is heart into 
all be does; tJuU 't why. He wn't Romanes, bat he 
may be trusted. He 's come here, that wot he has, 
to draw this 'ere Mammy Saaerkraat's Row, becaose 
it 'e interestin'. He ^'t a tax-gatherer. We don't 
approve o' payin' taxes, none of bus. We practices 
beconomy, and dislike the po-lice. Who was Mammy 
Sauerkraut ? " 

" I know 1 " cried the youthful would-be fortune- 
teller. " She was a witch." 

" Tool yer chib ! " (Hold your tongue !) cried the 
parent. '* Don't bother the lady with stories about 
ehovihanie " (witches). 

" But that 's just what I want to hear I " 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 
a little black girl who lives next door told me eo. 
And Mammy Sauerkraut used to change Kerself into 
a pig of nights, and that 's why they called her 
Sauerkraut. This was because they had pig ketchera 
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. 267 

she M ran, and they 'd run after her, till by and by 
fire wonld begin to fiy out of her bristles, and she 
jamped into the river and sizzed," 

This I thought worthy of the five cents. Then my 
nnde began to put questions in Romany. 

'* Where is Anselo W. ? He that was staruien for 
a gTyf^^ (imprisoned for a horse). 

" StanAen apopK.^^ (Imprisoned again.) 

** I am sorry for it, sister Nell. He used to play 
the fiddle welL I wot he was a canty chier, and 
dearly lo'ed the whusky, oh I " 

^^ Yes, he was too fond of that. How well he could 

play I •* 

" Yes," said my uncle, " he could. And I have 
sung to his fiddling when the tatto-pdni [hot water, 
t. e.j spirits] boiled within us, and made us gay, oh, 
my golden sister I 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 kamaben 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 ; atid I give the lyric as 
he afterwards gave it to me, both in Romany and 
English, As he frankly admitted,' it was his own 
composition. 



268 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 



KB TBINALL 

Tn shan miri pireni 

Me kam&ya tnte, 
Kamlidiri, rinkeni, 

K&meB mande bud ? 

Sa o miro kfishto grj 
Taden miri wardi, — 

Sa o boro bCLno zye 
Bikkera lesto stardi. 

Sa o bokro di^ o char 

Hawala adovo, — 
Sa i choramengeri 

Lelfl o lyas Iuyoo, — 

Sa o sasto leyinor 

Eain amand j mfttto, — 
Sa o yag adr€ o tan 

Eain o geero t&tto, — 

Sa i pfiri Romni chaX 

Pens o knshto dokkrin, — 
Sa i Gorgi dinneli, 

Patsers lakis pukkrin, — 

Tnte taders tiro rom, 
Sims o gry, o wardi, 

Tnte chores o zi adrom 
Bikkers sa i stardi. 

Tnte haws te chores m'ri z6, 
Tutes dukkered bnti 

Tn shan miro jivaben 
Me tVel paUer tute. 

Faller tnte sarasa 

Pardel pur te pani, 
lYinali — o krallisa 1 

Miri choyihani 1 



HOUSE GYPSIES IN PHILADELPHIA. 269 



TO TEINALL 

Now thou art my darling girl, 
And I love thee dearly ; 

Oh, heloved and mj fair, 
Lov'st thou me sincerelj ? 

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 Gtondle 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 yon will you make me. 

So you steal and gnaw my heart. 
For to that I 'm fated I 

And by you, my gypsy Kate, 
I 'm intoxicated. 

And I own yon 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 qneen 1 
Witch and witch's daughter I 

*' Well, that %% deep Romanes," said the woman, 
admiringly. " It 's beautiful." 

"Z 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 Earl, " 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 dukkerifij lei dudikdbin te chiv o mamin aprS 
lattV'^ * 

<^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 '« a Rom he 's anywhere 
at home." 

*^ So kushto hak!^^ (Good luck I) I said, rising to 
go. " We will come again I " 

"Yes, we will come again," said Meister KarL 
" Look for me with the roses at the races, and tell me 
the horse to bet on. Tou'll find my patter an [a 

^ A brief r^sumS 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 tray- 
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 I " 

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. 



1 



A GTF8T LETTEB. 

All the gypsies in the coantry are not upon the 
roads. Many of them live in bonseB, and that very 
respectably, nay, eren arifitocratically. Tea, 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 aod livea of those whs 
Uve aronnd 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 origia. For the 
majority of the world being enobs, they continually 
' insist that all blood unlike their own is base, and the - 
child of the kdlorat, knowing this, sayetb 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 
liim i\ r.ic\ni'6s and drollery and pungency and point 
wbiuli pa^.'^iilli faith. It has often occurred to me, 
and the older I grow the more I find it true, that the 
real pleasure n'hich bank presidents, moral politicians, 



A GYPSY LETTEB. 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 v^ar and batter this on the pulpit; but the 
utterance per Be 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. Mawworm and Aminidab Sleek then 
play a r61e 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 
op^n door to hell, for the chances are ninety and nine 
to one that if this be true you will end by consciously 
ot unconsciously keeTping a private little gate there- 
imto. Beloved, put this in thy pipe and fumigate 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 
crush it ? Truly it has been proved that with this, as 
with a certain other unquenchable penchant of hu- 
manity, 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 oat than id all England under 
Cromwell, or in Pbiladelphia under the Quakers. 
Eocentric di-esees, a.rtiEcial forms of language, sepa- 
rate and " peculiar " expressions of character unlike 
those of " the world," were all only giving a form to 
that craTing 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 diahle ne 
veut pas tie 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; be loves 
now and then to take a look at "the old thing." 
Closely allied to the converted sinners are the ajici- 
onadoa, or the ladies and gentlemen bom 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 in them. I know 
a very learned man in England,^ 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 P:ist Grand. I know ladies in England and ^n 
America, botli 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-fire. Great as my experience 
has been I can really no more explain the intensity 
of this yearning, this rapport, than I can fly. My 
own fancy for gypsydom is faint and feeble compared 



[ 



A GYPSY LETTER. 276 

to what I bave 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 adoif^^ 
(See I 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 : — 

• Fehmunti \gL 

MiBO KAMLO Pal, — Tu tevel mishto ta shun te latcher- 
dum me akovo kQrikus tacho Romany tan akai adr^ o gav. 
Buti kamaben lis sas ta dikk mori foki apopli ; buti kusbti 
^ ta shun moro jib. Mi-duvel atch apa mande, si ne sbomas 
pasb naflo o Grorginess, vonk' akovo vias. O waver diwus 
sa me viom fon a swell saleskro haben, dikdom me dui 

Roman! chia beshin alay apr^ a longo skamin^adr^ 

Square. Kalor yakkor, k&lor balyor, iQllo diklas apr^ i 
sberria, te lender trusbnia aglal lender piria. Mi-duvel, 
sbomas pash divio sar kamaben ta dikav lender I Avol 
kairdum o wardomengro hatch i graia te sheldom avrl, 
'< (hme here I *' Yon penden te me sos a r&ni ta dukker, 
te vian sig adosta. Awer me saldom te pendom adr^ 
Rdmanis : " Sarisban miri dearis I Tute don't jin mandy's a 



276 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

Bomany ! " Yon nastis patser lende kania nera yakkor. 
'^Mi-davell Sa se tiro nav? putchde yeck. ^'Miro nav 
86 Britannia Lee." Kenna-sig yon diktas te me sos tachi, 
te penden ameiigi lender navia shanas M. te D. Lis sos 
duro pa lende ta jin sa a Romani rani astis jiv amen Gror- 
gios, te dikk sa Gorgious, awer te yel kushti Romani aja, 
te tevel buoino lakis kaloratt. Buti rakkerd^m apre mori 
foki, buti nevvi, buti savo sos rumado, te beeno, te puredo, 
savo sos vino fon o puro tem, te butikumi aja kekkeno sos 
rakkerben sa gudli. M. pende amengi, '^ Mandy don't jin 
how tute can jiv among dem Gk)rgies." Pukerdom anpali : 
« Mandy dont jiv, mandy m^rs kairin amen lender." Yon 
mangades mande ta well ta dikk a len, ad re lendes ker apr^ 
o chtimba kai atchena pa o wen. Pende M., '< Ay miri pen 
ta ha a bitti sar mendi. Tute jins the chais are only k^rri 
aratti te KOrrkus." 

Sunday sala miri pen te me ghion adoi te latchedon o 
ker. O tan sos bitto, awer sS. i Romanis pende, dikde boro 
adosta paller jivin adre o wardo. M. sos adoi te lakis roms 
dye, a kQshti puri chai. A. sar shtor chavia. M. kerde 
haben s& mendui viom adoi. I puri dye sos mishto ta dikk 
mande, yoi kamde ta jin sar trustal mande. Rakkerdem 
buti aja, te yoi pende te yoi n^ kekker latchde a Romani 
rani denna mande. Peudom me ke laki shan adre society 
kumi Romani rania, awer i galderli Gorgios ne jinena lis. 

Yoi pende sa miri pen dikde simlo Lusha Cooper, te sig- 
gerde lakis kaloratt btitider 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 adr^ Anglaterra ? " Pukkerdom me ke puri dye sar 
jinav me trustal miri kokeri te simensi. Tu jinsa shan kek 
Gorgies sa longi-bavoli apr^ genealogies, sa i puri Romani 
dyia. Yonka foki nastis chin lende adre lilia, rikkerena 
lende aduro adi*e lendros sherria. Que la main droit perd 
recueiUe la gauche, 

" Does tute jin any of the 's ? " pende M. " Tute 



A GYPSY LETTER. 277 

dikks sim ta ^"s juva." " Ne kekker, yois too pauno," 

pens A. <' It 's chomaDi adr^ the look of her," pende M. 

Dikkpali miro pal. Tu jinsa te sos i chi save dudi- 

kabinde manush, navdo btiti wongar. Yanka yui sos 

lino apr^, o Beshomengro pende ta kdr laki chiv apr^ a 
shuba sims Gorgios te adenne lelled laki adrd a tan sar 

desh te dui gorgi chaia. astissa pen i chai savo chords 

lestis lovYO. Yanka yoi vias adr^ o tan, yoi ghias sig keti 
laki, te pende : " Jinava me laki talla lakis longi vangusti, 
te rinkeni mui. Yoi sos stardi dui beshya, awer o Gorgio 
kekker las leski vongur pali." 

Savo-chiras mendi r&kkerden o wuder pirido, te trin 
manushia vian adr4 . . . 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 ramadi." "Mi-duvel, Britannia!" pende . 

*^ M. pende amengy te tu sos rumado." " M. didn't dukker 
tacho Yonka yoi dukkerd adovo. Yois a dinneli," pendom 
me. Te adenne sar mendi saden atdt M. Haben sos kushto, 
liom a kani, ballovas te puvengros, te kushto curro levina. 
Liom mendi kushto paiass dr^ moro piiro Romany dromus. 
Riukenodiro sos, k^rde mande pash ta ruv, shomas sa kush- 
to-bSkno ta atch yecker apopli men mori foki. Sos ** Brit- 
annia 1 " akai, te ^' Britannia I " doi, te s&r sa adr^ o piSro 
cheirus, vonka chavi shomas. Ne patserava me ta Dante 
chinde : — 

" Nessun maggior dolore 
Che ricordarsi del tempi feltcL" 

Talla me shomas kashto-bakno ta pen apr^ o pnro chirus. 
Sar lende piden miro kamaben Bomaneskaes, sar gudlo; 
talla H. Yov pende nastis k^r lis, p& yuv kennS. lias tabuti. 
Kushto dikin Romnichal yuv. Tu tevel jin lesti s&rakai pa 
Romani, yuv se sa kalo. Te avec Voir indefinnissable du 
vrai Bohemien, Yuv patserde me ta piav miro sastopen 
wavescro chirus. Kana shomas pS. misali, geero vias keti 
tan; dukkeriben kamde yov. Hunali sos i pQri dye te 



278 AMEBICJJt GYPSIES. 

[MttdM kmergi, " B«ng lel o puro jOkel for weDin Tinlu 
mend! (honi hiio, te keiui& to shui aluu, mui Britumu. 
Tot ne tevel lel kek kSihto b*k. Mjuidyll peo lests a 
wKfedo dnkkeno." Adoi A. patcherde mengy, " Does tnte 
dOkksr or tfi does tiit« k^." " Hiri pen, maiidj'll pen tote 
Ucho. Maodj dukken te dodikmbiiM t« k^ bOd covras. 
Bbora % Uchi Ronuni dwnluiiL" '' T«cho ! Ucbo ! " saden 
budder. Miri pen t« me rikkerdem a boro matto-morricle; 
pA i chavii. Ton besbdeo alaj tqn^ o pnrj, haia lis. Rinkeno 
pieturt sas, pendom dikkav mande te miri penia te pralia 
kennft ihomas bitd. Latcberdom me a t&ni kali chavi of 
panj beah cborin lerisa avrl miro cdito. Dikde, s&r lakis 
boH kAli yakka te kali balia simuo dkno Bacchante, sa yoi 
praiterde adrom. 

Pendom parako pfi mora kOBbto-bakeno cbinu — " kasbto 
bak" te "kHsbtodiwoB." Ktendi diom moro tacfaopen ta 
well Bpopli, te kan viom k6m. PateerSva dikk tute akai 
talli o prasterin o je grtua. Knshto bak te knsbto ratti. 

Sarja tiro pea, Bbitannia Leb. 

TKANSLATIOK. 

Februarg III. 
Mr DEAR Friend, — Ton will be glad to learn that I, 
w)thln tbe week, fonnd a real Romany family (place) here 
tn tlila town. Charmiag it was to find oor folk again ; 
|f4«M«iit it was to Ibten to our tongue. The Lord be on 
M* t but I was balf sick of Grentiles and tbeir ways till this 
<<<«urred. Tbe other day,' as I was returning from a highly 
»Tistoorada breakfast, where we had winter Btrawberries 
ir^ the crime de la creme, I saw two gypsy women sitting 

<• * bench in Square. Black eyes, black hair, red ker- 

rt> i t fe on their heads, their baskets on the ground before 
tMr f*ek Dear Lord 1 but I was half wild with deligbt at 
■w > ' tg them. Aye, I made the coachman stop the horses, 
vt •■T'*«i aloud, " Come here ! " They thought I was a 
v^ t^ fortune-tell, and came quickly. But I laughed, and 
^A h Romany, " How are yon, my dears ? Ton don't 



A GYPSY LETTER. 279 

know that I am a gypsy." 'thej could not trust their very 
ears or eyes! At length one said, ^'My God I 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 eotUd live 
among Gentiles, and look so Grorgious, 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 bom and buried, who was come from 
the old country, and much more. Oh, never was such news 
so sweet to me I M. said, ^^ I don't know how you can 
live among the Gentiles." I answered, '' 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 wintiering. 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 foand 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. AH 
jbalked, indeed, and that quite rapidly, and she said that I 
was the first Romany lady ^ she had ever seen. I said to 
h3r 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 C!ooper, 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 boz- 

^ Ladjy in gypsy rant. The process of degradation is curiously 
marked in this language. Bdni {ravmee), in Hindi, is a queen. Rye, 
or r<ie, a gentleman, in its native land, is applicable to a nobleman, 
while raakai, a clerfryman, even of the smallest dissenting type, rises 
in the original rishi to a saint of the highest order. 



280 AMERICAN GYPSIES. 

iog place near London Bridge ? Were yon born in Eng- 
land?" I told the old mother all I knew abont myself 
and my relations. Ton 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 
reeueiUe 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 oot '* a man named of a very 

large sum * by " dukkeripen " and " dudikabin." " When 
she was arrested, the justice made her dress like any Grorgio, 
and placed her amoug 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 Grorgio 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 
did n*t you bring your husband ? " '* Because I am not 
married." "^ Loi*d ! 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 we all 
laughed like children. The food was good: chickens and 
ham and fried potatoes, with a glass of sound ale. We 
were gay as fiies 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, — 

^ This was the veiy same affair and the same gypsies described 
and mentioned on page 383 of In Gypsy Tenta^ bj Francis Hindes 
Groome, Edinbuigb, 1880. I am well acquainted with them. 



A GYPSY LETTER 281 

"Kessun ma^or dolore, 
Che rioordarn del tempi feUd." 

" There u no greater grief 
Than to rememher bj-gone happy days.** 

For it is always happiness to me to think of gopd old 
times when I was glad. All drank my health, Sanumes- 
haetj 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, — (svec Tatr 
indefinissaUe 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 dukkertn^ or presag- 
ing, by taking a few drops of cherry-laurel water. • (I have 
had it prescribed for my eyes as 'Bf ciq. laur, ceras%,Ji<U iotio^ 
— 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 moiUons, 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 reveiJ 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 Hezenmeister von Teufel, of H5l- 
lenstadt, — her viper eyes flashing infernal light and most 
unchristian fire, shaking les noirs serpents de ses cheveuXf 
as she went forth. I know how, in an instant, her face was 
beautiful with welcome, snuling 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 sauperj or a 
holy ptophet 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 lively, 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 I t^he 
had known who it was that was up-stairs, laughing at him 
for a fool I 

While she was forth, A. asked me, '* Do you tell fortunes, 
or what f " « 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 lai'gely 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 Bomany witch." This little confession of faith 
brought down •the house. ** Bravo 1 bravo I " 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 Bomanys I And now I And then ! 
What a comedy some lives are, — yea, such lives as mine I 
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 ! " **• Gfood 



A GYPSY LETTER. 288 

luck!" and <^6ood day!" giving our promises to come 
again. So we went home all well. I hope to see yon at 
the races here. Good luck and good-night also to you. 
Always your friend, Britannia Lee. 

I haye 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 
Whitmannfed. 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 night 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 cWldren i Ubraries. It 
was but yester mom that I read a cuneiform 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 omi- 
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 BOBcula Bosculorum. 

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 OYPSY LETTER. 286 

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 1 '* 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,^ 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 aU 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 

1 Primtdaveris : in Gennan Schlussel Uume, that is, key flowem; also 
Mary's-keys and keys of heayen. Both the primrose and tulip are 
belieyed in South Germany to be an Open Sesame to hidden treasore. 



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 guslavy or minstrel, as they call them in Croatia. 
The YoQgo-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 
lifctle 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 olfreBco^ understand gyp- 



1 



A GYPSY LETTER. 287 

8168 a8 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- 
dyiied 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-4ay, in India, a sect and set 
of Vauriens, who are there considered Gipsissimsd, 
and who call thepiselves, 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, yon may read it in the great 
book of Out-of Doors, capitulo nvllo 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. 
He missa est. 



GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 



NoOH in Cairo. 

A silent old court-yard, half son and half shadow, 
in which quaintly graoefol, strangely carving colomns 
seem to have taken from long companionship with 
trees something of their inner life, while the palms, 
their neighbors, from long in-door enstenoe, look as 
if they had in tnm 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 saug or spoke for them 
strangely and sweetly all night and day, uttering for 

them not only their waMng thoughts, hut 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 «af«, or carriage- 
runners and donkey-boys and crying venders, kept up 
^^ the wonted Oriental din. But just within the arch- 

way, in its duskiest comer, there sat all day a living 
picture, a dark and handsome woman, apparently 



^ 



GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 289 

thirty years old, who was unyeiled. 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 Egyp- 
tian, or Chaldean, 9s 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 manr 
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 remexnberB its august abode 
And ^nurmurs as the ocean mnrmnrs 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, qwifub la belle Rommne^ — 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 barremiess, cold, 
death, and evil; whence it follows that the very 
sight of a shell, and especially of a cowrie, frightens 
away the deyils as well as a horse-shoe, which by the 
way has also its cryptic meaning. Hence it was se- 
lected to cast for lack, a world-old cnstom, 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 the 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 why 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 fature, that it seems, on the contrary, 
ennobling. It is precisely becaase man feels a mys* 
tery within himself that he admits it may be higher in 
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 30, but the awful mystery of the Unknown 
without a name and the yearning to penetrate it t8, 
and is all the more, because I have found all proph- 
ecies and jngglings 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 mj 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 Ulies has shown me 
where the sea-foam once fell, and pine-trees sang of 
masts preceding them. 

• " I sometimes think that never blows so led 
The rose as where some buried Csesar bled ; 
That every hyacinth the garden wears 
Dropt in her lap from some once lovely head." ^ 

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 Ehayy^n, Rubaiyat, 



GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 298 

published a fairy-book called Johnnykin,^ in which 
occurred the following lines : — 

Trust not the Ghoul, loye. 

Heed not his smile ; 
Out of the Masque, low. 

He stole the tUe, 

One day my friend the Palmer from oyer 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 : — 



tt 



* And neyer since the yine-dad earth was young 
Was some great crime committed on the earth, 
But that some poet prophesied the deed/' 



>tt 



**True, and also what the great Tsigane poet 
sang : — 

" ' O manush te lela sossi chored($, 
Wafodiro se te choramengr6/ 

" He who takes the stolen ring, 
Is worse than he who stole the thing; 



it 



" And it would have been better for you, while you 
were dukkerin 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 

^ Johnnykin and the Chblins. London : Macmillan. 



294 GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 

sought for the derivation of the word har^'o, and one 
day I found that the Oriental gypsies called a gourd 
by that name. Walking one day with the Palmer 
in Cambridge, we saw in a window a very fine Hindu 
lute, or in fact a real banjo made of a gourd. We 
inquired, and found that it belonged to a mutual 
friend, Mr. Charles Brookfield, one of the best fel- 
lows living, and who, on being forthwith ^* requi- 
sitioned " by the unanimous voice of all who sym- 
pathised with me in my need, sent me the instrument. 
^^ He did not think it right," he said, ^' to keep it, 
when Philology wanted it. If it had been any other 
party, — but he always had a particular respect and 
awe of her." I do not assert that this discovery 
settles the origin of the word hanjo^ but the coinci- 
dence is, to say the least, remarkable. 

I saw many gypsies in Egypt, but learned little 
from them. Wliat I found I stated in a work called 
the " Egyptian Sketch Book." It was to this effect : 
My first information was derived from the late Ehe- 
div^ Ismael, who during an interview with me said, 
^^ There are in Egypt many people known as Rbagarin, 
or Ghagarin, who are probably the same as the gyp- 
sies 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 
all adroit thieves, and noted as such. The men may 
sometimes be seen going round the country with mon- 
keys. In fact, they appear to be in all respects the 
same people as the gypsies of Europe." 

I habitually employed, while in Cairo, the same 
donkey-driver, an intelligent and well-behaved man 
named Mahomet, who spoke English fairly. On ask- 



GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 296 

ing him if he oould show me any Rhagarin^ he replied 
that there was a fair or market held every Satur- 
day at Boulac, where I would be sure to meet with 
women of the tribe. The men, he said, seldom vent- 
ured into the city, because they were subject to much 
insult and ill-treatment from the common people. 

On the day appointed I rode to Boulac. The mar- 
ket was very interesting. I saw no European or 
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 gi'own child character. 
There were dealers in donkeys and horses roaring 
aloud, ^^He is for ten napoleons! Had I asked twenty 
you would have gladly given me fifteen I " " O true 
believers, here is a Syrian steed which will give 
renown to the purchaser!" Strolling loosely about 
wei'e 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, 
and on her chin blue lines were tattooed. Her feat- 
ures and expression were, however, gypsy, and not 
Egyptian. And as she sat there quietly I wondered 
how 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 intelli^ble 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 bad 
no peculiar name for themselves, and she answered, 
"Yes ; we call ourselves Tat&ren." 



GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 297 

This at least was satisfactory. All over Soatliem 
Oermany 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 mauifested in 
her people. I gave her a double piaster, and asked 
for its value in bhie 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 Euglish 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 attachS 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 I 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 tenting out, in the world I 



298 GYPSIES IN TEE EAST. 

The gypsiest-looking gypsy in Cairo, with whom 
I became somewhat familiar, was a boy of sixteen, a 
snake-charmer; 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 Venner, 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 bouffe " Mefistofele," as the result, 



GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 299 

reminds one of the seven Saabians who went to hunt 
a monster, — " tf Ungeheuer^^^ — and returned with a 
hare. Elsie Venner 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 rouS 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 diild 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- 
pei^ts, 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, — I can- 
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 



800 GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 

her broom etprceterea nihil. Bat neither, alas, could 
be ever seen by me, for it is written in the " Gittin " 
that there are three handred species of male demons, 
but what the female hei-self 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 Iiish 
legends had shown the same modesty when Saint 
Patrick wanted him to enter the chest which he had 
prepared for his prison. '^ Sure, it 'ft 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, 
in fact, to go out with him some day a-snaking and 



GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 801 

scorp^ing, and have ever since regretted that I did not 
ayail 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 Yocliai 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 tliis '^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- 
ceiy only on the Sabbath, I never learned. 

Abdullah was crafty enough for a whole generation 
of snakes, but in the wisdom attributed to serpents 
he was woefully wanting. He would run by my side 



802 GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 

in the street as I rode, expecting that I would pause 
to accept a large wiggling scorpion as a gift, or pur- 
chase a viper, I suppose for a riding-whip or a neck- 
tie. One day when I was in a jam of about a hun- 
dred donkey-boys, trying to outride the roaidng 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, sah I Scor- 
pion, sah I Very fine snake .to-day, sah I " — 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 ^ and Seetzen, as quoted by Pott,^ 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 difficult. 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. 

Abdulhih 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 
seen a snake-charmer. I called the boy, and inad- 

1 Vide Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vd. xvi. part 2, 1856, 
p. 285. 
* Die Zgeuner, 



GYPSIES IN THE EAST. 808 

vertently gave him his pay in advance, teUing 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 hoar I beheld 
him no more. I think I can see that last gleam of 
his demon eyes as he tamed and fled. I met in after- 
days with other snake-boys, bat 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-wallaTM^ or snake-men, they 
are what in Europe would be called gypsies. 



GYPSY NAMES AND FAMILY CHAEAC- 

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 that 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. 

Aybes. 

Bailey (a). Half-bloods. Also called rich. Boam in 
Sussex. 

Barton. Lower Wiltshire. 

Black. Hampshire. 

BosviLLB (a). Generally spread, but are specially to be 
found in Devonshire. I have found several fine speci- 
mens of real Romany s among the American Bosvilles. 
In Romany, Chumomishto^ that is, Buss (or Kiss) well. 

Broadway (a). Somerset. 

BucKLAND. In Gloucestershire, but abounding over Eng- 
land. Sometimes called GhokamengrOf that is, Tailor. 



OYPSY NAMES. 806 

BuBTON (a). Wiltshire. 

Chapman (a). Half-blood, and are commonlj spoken of 
as a rich clan. Travel all over England. 

Chilcott (vul. Chiloock). 

Glabkb. Half-blood. Fortsmoath. 

GooPEB (a). Chiefly found in Berkshire and Windsor. 
In Romany, Vardo mescro. 

Dayies. 

DiOKENS. Half-blood. 

DiGHTON. Blackheath. 

Dbafeb. Hertfordshire. 

Finch. 

FuLLEB. Hardly half-blood, but talk Romany. 

Gbat. Essex. In Romany, Gry, or horse. 

Habe (a). Chiefly in Hampshire. 

Hazabd. Half-blood. Windsor. 

Hebne. Oxfordshire and London. ^* Of this name there 
are," says Borrow (Romano Lavo-Lil), " two gypsy ren- 
derings : (!•) Rosar-mescro or Ratzie-mescro, that is, dttck- 
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 Heme. 
(2.) Balor-engre, or Hairy People, the translator having 
oonfounded Heme with Haaren, Old English for hairs." 

Hicks. Half-blood. Berkshire. 

Hughes. Wiltshire. 

li^GBAHAM (a). Wales and Birminghaoti, or in the Kdlo 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 

so 



806 OTPST NAMES 

among tihemselyes called pwvmj a be-i, from the fanded 
resemblance of the words. 

Lewis. Hampshire. 

Locks. Somerset and Gloucestershire. 

LoYBL. Known in Romany as Kamlo, or Elamescro, that 
is, lover. London, but are found everywhere. 

LoTBRiBOR. Travd in 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 Guthbert'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 Ghikkenemengree, china or earthenware (lit 
dirt or clay) men, from their cutting corks, and peddling 
pottery, or mending china. 

Matthews. Half-blood. Surrey. 

North. 

Prtulenoro, or Smith. The Romany name Fetulengro 
means Master of the Horseshoe; that is. Smith. The 
gypsy who made this list declared that he had been ac- 
quainted with Jasper Fetulengro, of Borrow'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. 

FiKE. Berkshire. 

FiNFOLD, or Fenfold. Half and quarter blood. Widely 
extended, but. most at home in London. 

RoLLiN (Roland?). Half-blood. Chiefly about London. 

Scamp. Chiefly in Kent A small clan. Mr. Borrow de- 
rives this name from the Sanskrit Ksnmp, to go. I 
trust that it has not a more recent and purely English 
derivation. 

Shaw. 

Small (a). Found in West England, chiefly in Somerset 
and Devonshire. 



AND FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS. 807 

Stanley (a). One of the most extended dans, bat said 
to be chiefly found in* Devonshire. Thej sometimes call 
themselves in joke Beshalay, that is, Sit-Down, from the 
word stony suggesting standing up in connection with lay. 
Also Bangor, or Baromescre, 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 diddikaiy or half-bloods. 
Chiefly in London. This dan should be the only one 
known as Ohokamengro* 

TUBNER. 

Walker. Half-blood. Travel about Surrey. 

Wells (a). Half-blood. Somerset. 

Wharton. Worton. I have only met the Whartons in 

America. 
Wheeler. Pure and half-blood. Battersea. 
White. 
'* Adr4 Lavines tern o Romanies see Woods, Roberts, 

Williams, and Jones. In Wales the gypsies are Woods, 

Roberts, Williams, and Jones.'' ^ 

CHARACTERISTICS.* 

Of these gypsies the Bailies are fair. 
ilie Birds are in Norfolk and Suffolk. 
The Blacks are dark, stout, and strong. 
.The BosYiLLES 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 Chapmanb are fair. 

f The Dialect of the English Gypsies. 

* 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 responsible for its ac- 
curacy or inaccuracy. 



808 GTPST NAMES 

The Cljlrkss are fur and weO-siaed men. 

The C0OPBS8 are short, daik, and yeiy actiye. 

Hie DiOHTOXS are Tery duk and stoot. 

Tlie DRAPBRa are Tery tall and large and dark. 

Tlie Fjljls are at Elrk Yetholm, in Scotland. 

The Grays are Tery lai^ and fair. 

Tlie Grunbs are small and dark. 

The Oregoribs range from Sarrej to Suffolk. 

Tlie Hares are lai^ stont, and dark. 

The Habarbs are tall and £ur. 

The Hrrnes (Herons) are Tery large and dark. 

The Hicks are yery large, strong, and fair. 

The Hughes are short, stahby, and dark. 

Tlie Ingrahams are fair and aU of medium height. 

Tlie Jbkkiks are dark, not large, and active. 

The Jones are fur and of middliDg height. 

The Lanes are fair and of mediom height. 

The Lebs are dark, tall, and stoat 

The Lewis are dark and of medium height. 

The Lights are half-bloods, and travel in Middlesex. 

The LocKES are shortish, dark, and large. 

The LoTELLS are dark and laige. 

The Maces are about Norwich. 

The Matthews are thick, short, and stout, fair, and 
good fighters. 

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 are rather large and dark. 

The Scamps are very dark and stout. 

The Shaws travel in Middlesex. 

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. 809 

The Tatlors are short, stent, 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 YouKGS are very dark. They travel in the northern 
counties, and helong both to Scotland and England. 

The following is a collection of the more remark- 
able *^fore '* or Christian names of Romanys : — 

MASGULIKE 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, t. 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, u «., Greneral 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 
at his birth, and Vinegar to signify their grief at his loss. 

Gilderoy Buckland. Silvanus Boswell. 

Lancelot Cooper. Sylvester, Vester, Wester, 

Oscar Buckland. Westarus and 'Starus. 

Dimiti Buckland. Liberty. 

Piramus Boswell. Goliaih. 



810 GYPSY NAMES 

Beoondle. Octavius. 

JusterinuB. Bender Smith* 

Faunio. 

Shek-^n. I am assured on good authority that a gypqr 
had a child baptized by this name. 

Artaros. Sack!. 

Culyato (Claude). SpyselL 

Diyervus. Spico. > 

Lasho, t. e,j 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 Y^ 
suyius, 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 

VmnSIKE NAMES. 

ISelinda, Slinda, Linda, Slindi. Delilah. 

Mia. Prudence. 

Mizelia, Mizelli, Mizela. Providence. 

Lina. Ere. 

Pendivella. Athaliah. 

Jewrdnum, t. 6., Geranium. Grentilla, Gentle. 

Virginia. Synfie. Probably Cynthia. 

Suby, Azuba. Sybie. Probably from 

Isaia. Sibyl. 

Bichenda. Canairis. 

Elomi. Fenella. 

Liberina. Floure, Flower, Flora. 

Malindi. Kisaiya. 

Otcham^. Orlenda. 

Ben^e. Beyora, Begina. 

Sinaminta. Syeira. Probably Cyra. 

Y-yra or Yeira. liuffeni. 

Delira, Deleera. Ocean Soils. 



AND FAMILY CHARACTERISTICS, 



811 



Marili Stanley. 

Britannia. 

Glani. 

Zuba. 

Sjbarini Cooper. 

Esmeralda Locke. 

PentL 



Penelli. Possibly from 

Fenella. 
S^gel Backland. 
Morella Knightly. 
Eza. 
Lenda. 
CoUia. 



Beservi. This extraordinary name was derived from a 
reservoir, by which some gypsies were camped, and where 
a child was bom. 



Lementina. 

BodL 

Alablna. 

Dosia. 

Lavi. 

Silvina. 

Bichenda. 

Marbelenni. 

Ashena. 

Yashti. 

Yooregh* 



Gasello (Celia). 

Catseye. 

Trainette. 

Perpinia. 

Dora. 

Starlina. 

Bazena. 

Bona. 

Ewri. 

Eoket 

Lusho. 



GYPSY STORIES. 

a BOICAHT, WITH TRASSLATIOB. 
MERLIN06 TE TBOTAU. 

*^ MntO koko, pen mandj a rinkeno gadlo ? " 
AteII miri chavi. Me 'tvel pen tnte dui te 
flhyan trin, yonka tnte 'atches sar pnkeno. Shun 
amengi. Yeckoros adr^ o Lavines tern sob a boro 
choriban, naydo Merlinoe. Gnsyero mush soe Mer- 
linos, bati seeri coTva yny asti kair. Jind&s yny ta 
pur yeck jivnipen adr£ o wayer, saster adr6 o rnpp, 
te o rfipp adr^ sonakai. Fino coyya sos adoyo te sos 
miro. Te longoduro fon leste jiydes a bori choyibani, 
Trinali sos lakis nay. Boridiri cboyihani sos Trinali, 
biiti manushe seerdas yoi, bnti ryor pnrdas yoi adr^ 
mylia te b3lor, te n^ kesserdas yeck haura pa sSr 
lender dusb. 

Yeck diyyns Merlinos li&s lester cboyibaneskro ran 
te jas aduro ta latcber i cboyibani te pessur laki 
droy&n pS sar lakis wafropen. Te pa adoyo tacho 
dfvyus i r&ni Trinali sbundas sa Merlinos boro raslo 
Borelo choyihan se, te pendas, ^^ Sossi ajafra musb ? 
Me dakker&ya leste or yuy teyel mer mande, s'up 
mi beng I me sbom te seer leste. Mukkamen dikk 
sayo lela kumi shunaben, te sayo se o jinescrodiro? " 
Te adoi o Merlinos jas apr^ o dromus, sarodfyyus 
akonyo, sarja adr£ o kamescro dud, te Trinali jas 



OTPSY STORIES. 818 

adr^ wesh sarja adr^ o ratinus, o tain, o kalopen, 
o shure, denne yoi sos chovihani. Eennasig, yan 
latcherde yeckawaver, awer Merlinos n^ jindas yoi 
SOS Trinali, te Trinali rk6 jindas adovo manush se ^ 
Merlinos. Te yuy sos buti kamelo ke laki, te yoi 
apopli; kennasig yandiii ankairde ta kam yecka- 
waver butidiro. Vonka yeck jinella adovo te o waver 
jinella lis, kek boro chiras tvel i dui sosti jinavit. 
Merlinos te Trinali pende ^' me kamava tute," sig 
ketenes, te chumerde yeckawaver, te besbde alay 
rikkerend adr^ o simno pelashta te rakkerde kushto 
bSk. 

Te adenna Merlinos pukkerdas laki, yttv jas ta 
dusher a bUti wafodi chovihani, te Trinali pendas 
lesko simno cowa, sa yoi sos ruzno ta kair o simno 
keti a boro chovihano. Te i dui ankairede ta man- 
ger yeckawaver ta miikk o cowa ja, te yoi te yuv 
shomas atrash o nasherin lende pireno te pirenL 
Awer Merlinos pendas, ^^Mandy sovahalldom pa o 
kam ta pur laki pa sar lakis jivaben adr^ b waver 
trSppo." Te yoi ruvvedas te pendas, " Sovahalldas 
me pa o chone ta pur adovo chovihano adr^ awavero, 
sim's tute." Denna Merlinos putcherdas, *^ Sasi les- 
ters nay ? " Yoi pendas, " Merlinos." Yuv rakkere- 
das palall, ^'Me shom leste, sasi tiro nav?" Yoi 
shelledas avri, " Trinali I " 

Eenna vanka chovibanis sovahallan ohumeny apr^ 
kam te i choni, yan sosti keravit or m^r. Te denna 
Merlinos pendas, '' Jinesa tu sa ta kair akovo pennis 
sar kushto te tacho ? " " Kekker miro kamlo pireno," 
pendas i chori chovihani sa yoi ruvdas." ^^ Denna 
me shom kiimi jinescro, ne tute," pendas Merlinos. 
^' Shukar te kiishto cowa se akovo, miri romni. Me 
tevel pur tute adr^ mande, te mande adr^ tute. Te 
vonka mendui shom romadi mendui tevel yeck." 



814 GYPSY STORIES, 

SS yeck mush ta dfyvus kennS penella yoi si^erdas 
leste, te awavero pens yuv siggerdas laki. Ne jinSva 
me miri kameli. Ne dikkdas tu kekker a dui sheres- 
cro liaura ? Avail ! Wusser lis uppar, te vanka lis 
pellalay pokk amengy savo rikk se alay. Welsher 
pendas man adoYO. Welsheri pennena sarja tacho- 
pen. 

HEBLIN AND TBINALI. 

" My unde, tell me a pretty story I " 

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 sufiEerings. 

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 [is] a great, powerful 
wizard, and said, " What sort of a man is this ? I 
will punish him or he shall kill me, deuce help me I 
I 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 the forest, always in 
the shade, the 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 Trinali 



GYPSY STORIES, 815 

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.". 

Nqw when witches swear anything on the sun or 
the moon, they must do it or die. Then Merlin said, 
" 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? Te»f Throw it up, and 



816 GYPSY STORIES. 

when it falls down ask me which side is under. A 

Welsher told me that story. Welshers always tell 

the tnith. 

O PUV-SUVBR. 

Yeckoms sims buti kediyvQs, sos rakli, te yoi sos 
kushti partanengri, te yoi astis kair a rinkeno plachta, 
yeck sar dfyvus. Te coYakai chi kamdas rye butidiro, 
awer yeck dfvYos lakis pireno sos stardp adr^ staru- 
ben. Te vonka yoi shundas lis, yoi hushtiedas apr£ 
te jas keti krall^ te mangerdas lefiLte choruknes ta 
mfikk lakis pireno ja piro. Te krallis patserdas laki 
teyel yoi kairdas leste a rinkeno plachta, yeck sar 
diyyus pa kurikus, hafta plachta pa hafta dfyyos, yuy 
tyel ferdel leste, te d^ leste tacbaben ta ja 'yri. I 
tani rani siggerdas ta kerayit, te pa shoy dfyyus yoi 
t&deredas adrom, kushti zi, pa lis te sarkon chifiis 
adr^ o shab yoi bftcherdas plachta keta krallis. Awer 
ayella yeck dfyyus yoi sos kinlo, te pendes yoi n^i 
kamdas kair biitsi 'doyo dfyyus si sos brishnii te yoi 
nestis shiri a sappa dr^ o kamlo dud. Adenn' o krallis 
pendas te yoi nestis kair butsi hafta dfyyus laya lakis 
^ pireno^ o rye sosti hatch staramescro te yoi ne mukk- 
das kamaben adosta pa leste. Te i rakU sos sa htin- 
nalo te tukno dr6 lakis zi yoi merdas o rtiyyin te lias, 
puraben adrd o puy-suyer. Te keti dfyyus kenna yoi 
pandella apr^ lakris tayia, yonka kam peshella, te i 
cuttor pani tu dikess' apr^ lende shan o panni fon 
lakis yakka yoi ruydas pa lakris pireno. 

Te tu yel hatch kaulo yeck lilieskro dfyyus tu astis 
nasher sar o kairoben fon o choUo kurikus, miri chayi. 
Tu peness' tu kamess' to shun wayeri gudU. Sar 
tacho. Me teyel puker tute rinl^no gudlo apr^ kali 
foki. Repper tute sarkon me penaya sa me repper- 
das lis fon miro babus. 



GYPSY STORIES. 817 

THE SPIDEB.1 

Once there was a girl, as there are many tcMlay, 
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 shtt 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 foi^ive 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 v^as 
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 
ha3 wept lor 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.^ Kemember 

1 literally, the earth-sewer. 

* Kali fold, Kalo meanB, as in Hindostani, not only black, hat 
also lazy. Pronounced kavhlo. 



818 GYPSY STORIES. 

ftll I tell you, as I remembered it from my grand- 
father, 

GORGIO, KALO-MANUSH, TB BOM. 

Yeckoros pa ankairoben, kon i mantL3liia nanei kk- 
yia, o boro Dtivel jas piri&n. Sa si asar ? Shun miri 
chavi, me giyellis tute : - 

^ Bilti beshia kedivyns kenna 

Adr^ o tern ankairoben, 
O boro Ddyel jas 'tzi aja, 
Ta dikk i musbia miraben. 

Sa yuY pirridas, dikkdas trin miishia pash o dromes- 
cro rikk, hatohin keti chomano mush te yel d^ lendis 
navia, te len putcherde o boro Dtivel ta navver lende. 
Dordi, o yeckto mush sos pano, te o boro Dtivel puk- 
kerdas kavodoi, "Gorgio," Te yuv sikkei*das leste 
kokiero keti dovo, te suderdas leste buti kameli sa 
Jewries, te rinkeni rudaben, te jas gorgeouB. Te o 
wavescro geero sos kalo sa skunya, te o boro Duvel 
pendas, "Nigger!" te yuv nikkeredas adrom, sa 
sujery te muzhili, te yav se nikkerin sarja keti kenna, 
, adr^ o kamescro dud, te yuv's kalo-kalo ta kair butsi, 
nanef tu serbers leste keti lis, te tazzers lis. Te o 
trinto mush sos brauno, te yuv beshdas pukeno, tuvin 
leste's swagler, keti o boro Duvel rakkerdas, "Rom I " 
te adenna o mush hatchedas apr^, te pendas buti 
kamelo, "Parraco Rya tiro kiLshtaben; me te vel 
mishto piav tiro sastopen ! " Te jas romeli a roamin 
langs i lescro ronmi, te kekker dakkerdas lester koke- 
rus, n^ kesserdas pa chichi fon adennadoi keti kenna, 
te jas adral o sweti, te kekker hatchedas pukenus, te 
nanei hadder ta k^ravit ket' o boro Duvel penell' o 
lav. Tacho adovo se sa tiri yakka, miri kamli* 



GYPSY STORIES. 819 

QORQIO,! BLACK MAN, AND GTPST. 

Once in the creation, when men had no names, the 
Lord went walking. How was that? Listen, my 
child, I will sing it to you : — 

Many a year has passed away 
. Since the world was first beg^nn. 
That the great Lord went out one day 
To see how men's lives went on. i 

As he walked along he saw three men by the road* 
side, waiting till some man wonld give them names ; 
and they asked the Lord to name them. See I 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 gw- 
geou». And the other man was black and the Lord 
called him Nigger, and he lounged away [nt^Arer, 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 
wa^ brown, and he sat quiet, smoking his pipe, till 
the Lord said, Rom I [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^ 
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 Gorgio. Gentile ; any man not a gypsy. Possibly from gJiora aji, 
"Master white man/' Hindu. Used as goi is applied by Hebrews to 
the nnbelieyers. 

* Bomeli, rom'ni. Wanderings gypsying. It ie remarkable that 
ramna, in Hindu, means to roam. 



820 GYPSY STORIES. 

to untQ the Lord speaks the word 
tnie as your eyes, my dear I 



YAQ-BAB TE SA8TEIL 

si O ILAM BOS AVXXBDO. 

^ Pen mandy a waver gudlo trustal o ankairoben ! " 
N£ shomas adoi, awer shandom bati apa lis f on miro 
bfibns. Foki pende mengy sa o choUo-tem ^ sos k^rdo 
fon o kam, awer i Romany chalia savo keren sar 
ohingernes, pen o kam sos k^rdo fon o boro tern. 
Wafedo gry se adoYO te nestis ja sigan te anpali o 
kushto drom. Yeckoras 'dr€ o puro chiros, te kenna, 
SOS a bori pureni chovihani te k^rdas slrini coyyas, 
te jiydas sar akonyo adr^ o heb adr^ o ratti. Yeck 
dfyms yoi latchedas ySg-bar adr^ o pay, te tilldas es 
apr^ te pukkeredas lestes nay pale, *^ Yag-bar." vTe 
pash a bittus yoi latchedas a bitto koshto-saster, te 
haderdas lis apr^ te pntchedas lestis nay, te lis rak- 
kerdas apopli, ^^Sast-er." Chiyd&si doi 'dr^ lakis 
piitsi, te pendas Yag-bar, ^^ Tu sosti rammer o rye, 
Saster ! " Te yan k^rdayit, awer yeck dfyyns i dai 
ankairede ta chinger, te Saster d^s lestis jaya Yag- 
bar a tatto-yek adr^ o yakk, te kairedas i chingari ta 
mCLkker ayri, te hotcher i pari jdya's patsL Sa yoi 
wosserdas hotchemi patsi adr^ o hey, te pendas lis ta 
kessar adrom keti ayenna o mash sari jaya kun kek- 
ker chingerd chichi. I chingari shan staria, te doyo 
yag se o kam, te lis nanei jillo ayri keti kenna, te lis 
teyel botcher andoro bati beshia pa sir jinoya m£ 
keti chingerben. Tacho si ? N€ shomas adoL 

1 CftoOo-teM. Whole eonnliy, woild. 



GYPSY STORIES. 821 

FUKT AND STEEL. 

OB HOW THB BUir WAB CBSATSD. 

" Tell me another story about the creation I" 
I was not there at the time, but I heard a great deal 
about it ttom 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 fiint 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 two 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 
fljr, 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 ACANtrSH EON JIVD^ ADHt O CHONE (SHONE). 

" Pen mandy a waver gudlo apa o chone?'* 
Ayali miri deari. Adr^ o puro chiros batidosta 
mannshia jiyyede kushti-bakeno 'dr^ o chone, sar chi- 
chi ta kair awer ta rikker ap o yag so k^rela o dad. 
A wer, amen i foki jivdas buti wafodo miileno manosh, 
kon dnsherdas te lias witcihaben atiit sar i waveri 
deari manushia, te yav kairedas lijs sa^s ta shikker lende 
sar adrom, te chivdas len avn o chone. Te kenna o 
sig o i foki shan jillo, yav pendas: *^ Kenna akovi 
dinneli juckalis shan jiUo, me te Yel jiv mashni te 
kushto, sar akonyus." Awer pash o bitto, o y% 
ankairdas ta h&tch alay, te akovo geero latchdas se 
yuY n^ kamdas ta hatch adr^ o ratti te merav shillino, 
ynv sosti ja sarja pa kosht. Te kanna i waveri foki 
shanas adoi, yan n^ kerden o rikkaben te wadderin i 
kashta adr^ o dfyyusko chiras, awer kenna asti lei Us 
sar apr^ snstis pikkia, sar i ratti, te sar o divvus. 
Sa i foki akai apr^ o chollo-tem dikena adovo manush 
keti dfyyus kenna, sar pordo o koshter te bittered, te 
muserd te gumeri, te gaberin keti leskro noko kokero, 
'te kunerin akonyus pash lestis yag. Te i chori mushia 
te yuY badderedas adrom, yul [yan] jassed sar atut 
te trustal o hev akai, te adoi, te hatchede up buti pa 
lender kokeros ; te adovi shan i starya, te chirkia, te 
bitti dudapen tu dfkessa sarakai. 

"Se adovo sar tacho?" Akovi se kumi te me 
jinova. Awer kanna su tu penessa m^ astis dikk o 
manush dr^ o chone savo rikkela kasht apr^ lestes 
dumo, yuv sosti keravit ta chiv adr^ o yag, te yuv ne 
tevel dukker lestes kokero ta kair adovo te yuv sus 
rumado or lias palyor, sa lis se kammaben adosta o 
miish chingerd lestis palya te nassered lende sar 
audiiro. Tacho. 



GYPSY STORIES. 828 

THE MAN WHO IJVBD EST 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 bat 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 bum down, and that 
mtan 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 [f uUJ 
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- 
chopen — awo ? Se's a boro or a kiisi covva, man- 
dy 'U rakker tacho, s'up mi-duvel, apr^ mi meriben, 



tM GTPST ST0B1E8. 

bcngia adi4 man^oTB we if nuuidj pens a bitto hack-f 
•bea I An* si s^ »ddaTTel ? Did mandy ever cbore 
• kim *AH m\ jiT ? and what do the Komaoy chaJa 
bur o' tbe porta, 'cause kekker erer ^kked chlchif 
pish of a Romany tan ? Eek rya, — mandy never 
cbored a kini an' adrtf sixty beshes kenna 'at mandy 's 
been apr< tbe dmmyon, an' stir doTO chirus Diandj 
never dikked or shoned or jinned of a Romany dial's 
dborin jvk.. What 'b addnvel tate pens ? — that 
Petnleo^ro kaliko dfvms penned tute ynr rikkered 
a yigengeree to moUer kaoisl Avali rya — tacbo 
n aja — the mnab penned adr< his kokero see weahni 
kants. But k^ htirttero kanis. Romania kekkei: 
dtons kndy.*' 

QTP8T TUUTU. 
" Master, too vant me to tell yon all the truth, 
— yes? If it's a big or a little thing. Ill tdl the 
truth, BO help me God, npon my life I The devil be 
in my aool if I tell the least lie I And what is it 7 
IHd I ever in all my Ufe steal a chicken ? and what 
do the gypsies do with the feathers, becaoae nobody 
eTw saw any near a gyp^ tent ? Never.sir, — Inever 
stole a diicken ; and in all the sixty years that I 've 
been on the roads, in all that time I never saw or 
beard or knew of a gypsy's stealing one. What's 
that yon say ? — that Petulengro told yon yesterday 
that be carried a gun to kill chxckent! Ah yes, 

sir, thai is true. too. The man meant in his heart 

n-Ort,; .^ii-keas [ih^t is, pheasants]. But not domestic 
^AjVir(,^j,A Grpsi^^ "^-ver steal (*«».> " 

^^■^ *. , ff^ ■^1 jtlo th*,, other poor peopla of bia 




.1 
•3 



-1-r 



•i-.»* 



w .; 



_ i'* 






« a 






(7ITiSr STORIES. 825 



CHOVIHAinPBN. 



^^ Miri diri bibi, me kamava butidiro tevel chovi- 
hanL Kamava ta dukker geeris te ta jin kunjemi 
cola. Tu sosti sikker mengi sarakovi." 

*^ Oh miri kHmli I youka tu vissa te yel choTihani, 
te i Gorgie jinena lis, tu lesa buti tugnus. Sar i chavi 
tevel 'shellavn, te kair a gudli te wosser baria k&nna 
dikena tute, te shyan i bori f oki m^rena tute. Awer 
kushti se ta jin garini cowa, kushti se vonka chori 
churkni juva te sar i sweti chungen' apr£, jinela sa 
ta kair lende wafodopen ta pessur sar lenghis dash. 
Te man tevel sikker tute chomany chovihaneskes. 
Shun I Yonka tu kamesa pen o dukkerin, lesa tu sar 
tiro man ^ ta latcher ajafera a mauush te manushi lis 
se^ D^ lende o yack, chiv lis drov&n opa lakis yakka 
tevel se rakli. Yonka se pash trasherdo yoi tevel 
pen btiti talla jinaben. K&nna tu sos k^do lis s6rkon 
chorus tu astis risser buti dinneli chaia sa tav trustal 
tiro angushtri. Kenna-sig tiri yakka dikena pensa 
j^ sappa, te vonka tu shan hoini tu tevel dikk pens' o 

,^ puro beng. O pashno cowa miri dean se ta jin sa 

^ ta plasser, te kamer, te masher foki. Yanka rakli 

; lela chumeni kek-siglo adr^ lakis mui, tu sastis pen 

laki adovo sikerela buti bak. Kfinna lela lulli te 
safrdni balia, pen laki adovo se tatcho sigaben yoi 
sasti lei buti sonakei. K&nna lakis koria wena kete- 
nes, dovo sikerela yoi tevel ketni buti barveli rya. 
Pen sarja vonka tu dikesa o latch apr^ lakis cham, 
talla lakis kor, te vaniso, adovos sigaben yoi tevel a 
bori rani. Ma kessur tu ki lo se, *prd o truppo te 
prd o bull, pen laki sarja o latch adoi se sigaben o 

^ Mean lana, Hindostazii : to set the heart upon. Manner, Eng. 
Gjp. : t3 encourage ; also, to forhid. 



826 GYPSY STORIES. 

boridirines. Hammer laki apr^. Te dikessa ta yoi 
lela bitti wastia te bitti piria, pen laid trastal a rye 
ko se divius pa rinkeni piria, te sa o rinkeno wast 
anela kumi bacht te rinkno mui. Hammerin te 
kamerin te masherin te shorin shan o pash o duk- 
kerin. S.e kek rakli te kekno mush adr^ mi duvel's 
choUo-tem savo ne se bomo te hunkari pa chomani, 
te SI tu astis latcher sa se tu susti lei lender wongur. 
Stastis, latcher sar o rakkerben apr^ foki. 

*^ Awer miri bibi, adovos sar hokkanipen. Me ka- 
mavabuti ta sikker tachni chovihanipen. Pen mandy 
SI nanei tachi chovahanis, te sa yol dikena/' 

^* O tachi chovihani miri chavi, lela yakka pensa 
chiriclo, o kunsus se rikkeredo apr^ pensa bongo chiv. 
Buti Yahudi, te neboUongeri lena jafri yakka. Te 
cho'hani balia shan rikkerdi pa ISkis ankairoben te 
surri, te adenna risserdi. Vonka Gorgikani cho'hani 
lena shelni yakka, adulli shan^i trash eni. 

** Me penava tnki chomani sirines. Vonka tu lat- 
chesa o pori te o sastemi krafni, te anpali tu latchesa 
cuttor fon papiros, tu sastis chin apr^ lis sar o pori 
savo tu kamesa, te ha lis te tu lesa lis. Awer tu 
' sasti chin sar tiro noko ratt. Si tu latchessa pash o 
lon-doeyav o boro matcheskro-bar, te o puro curro, 
chiv lis keti kan, shunesa godli. Tevel tastis kana 
pordo chone peshela, besh sar nangi adr^ lakis dud 
hefta ratti, te shundes adr^ lis, sarrati o gudli te vel 
tachodiro, te anpale tu shunesa i feris rakerena sig 
adosta. Vonka tu keresa hev sar o bar adr€ o mul- 
leskri-tan, jasa tu adoi yeck ratti pash a waver te 
kenna-sig tu shunesa sa i mulia rakerena. Sorkon- 
chirus penena ki lovo se garrido. Sastis lei o bar te 
risser lis apr^ o mulleskri-tan, talla hev si k^do. 

^^ Me penava tuki apopli chomani cho'haunes. Lei 



GYPSY STORIES. 827 

vini o Bar covra te saverena apr^ o pani, pa lenia, 
pa doejrav. Te asar i paneskri muUos kon jivena 
adr^ o pani rakkerena keti puveskri chovihanTs. Si 
maniish dikela pano panna, te partan te diklo apr^ o 
pani te lela lis, adovo sikela astis lei a pireni, o yuzhior 
te o kushtidir o partan se, o kushtidir i rakli. Si 
latchesa ran apr^ o pani, doYO sikela sastis kur tiro 
wafedo geero. Chokka or cnrro apr^ o pani penela 
tu tevel sig atch kamelo sar tiri pireni, te plreno. 
Te safrani ruzhia pa pani dukerena sonaki, te paani, 
rupp, te loli, kammaben." 

*^K&na latchesa klisin, dovo se buti bacht. Vonka 
haderesa lis apr^, pen o manasheskro te rakleskri nav, 
te yan wena kamlo o tute. Butidir bacht si loUo dori 
te tav. Rikker lis, sikela kashti kamaben. Man 
nasher lis avri tiro zi miri chavi." 

" Nanei, bibi, kekker." 



.♦ 



wrrorfcRAFT.^ 

" 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 
I will teach you something of witchcraft. Listen! 

• 

^ Chovihan, m., chovihani, fern., often cho'ian or cho*ani, a witcB. 
Probably from the Hindu Hoanee, a witch, which has nearly the same 
pronunciation as the English gypsy word. ^ 



828 OYPSY STORIES. 

When thou wilt tell a iortune, 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 cheek 
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 her 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 pretty hand 
brings more luck than a pretty face. Praising and 
petting and alluring and crying-up are half of fortune- 
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 witchcraft. Tell me if there are no real 
witches, and how they look." 

" A real witch, my child, has eyes like a bird, the 
corner turned up like th^ point of a curved pointed 



GYPSY STORIES. 829 

knife. Many Jews and un-Cbristians 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 an 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 
plainly 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 
[tal^e care] of everything that swims on water, on 
rivers or the sea. For so the water-spiri^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 stafiE [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 na^e, 



880 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 thy soul, my 
child." - 

"No, aunt, never." 



THE ORIGIN OP THE GYPSIES. 



This chapter contains in abridged form the substance of papers on the 
oriigin of the gypsies and their language, read before the London Philolog- 
ical Society; also of another paper read before the Oriental Congress at 
Florence m 1878 ; and a r^aurnd of these published in the London Batttt^ 
day Seview. 

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 
groijmds 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 Hduptstamm 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 
caste is established and callings are hereditary even 



882 THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 

among oat-caatea. It is not assaming too much to 
sappose that, as they eyinoed a marked aptitude for 
certain parsnits and an inyeterate attachment to cer- 
tain habits, their ancestors had in these respects re- 
sembled them for ages. These parsnits and habits 
were that 

They were tinkers, smitiis, and fauriers. 

They dealt in horses, and were natorally 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 Grod," 
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 remains 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. 888 

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 mvllo 
bdloTy 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, hypotheticaJly, that 
the Jat warriors were supplemented by other tribes, 
— chief anoiong 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- 



884 THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 

tral India to tbe far nortfaem frontier, where a por- 
tion of their early ancestry appears as the Domarr, 
and are supposed to be pre-Aryan. In ** The People 
of India," edited by J. Forbes Watson and J. W. 
Kaye (India Moseum, 1868), we 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 Sopuckh, 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 
age of eighty or ninety; and it is not till sixty or 
sixty-five that their hair begins to get white." The 
Domarr 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 to 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 gypsydom, 
Domnipana. D in Hindustani is found as r in Eng- 
lish gypsy speech, — «. ^., doi^ a wooden spoon, is 
known in Europe as rot, Now in common Romany 
we have, even in London, — 

Rom A gypsy. 

Romni .... A gypsy wife. 

Romnipen • . . Gypsydom. 



I 
I 
I 

I 
I 
I 

I 
I 
I 

I 
I 



THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 885 

Of this word rom I shall have more to say. It may 
be observed that there are in the 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. Grabbing 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. Tet 
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 Dom 
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 Luri 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 mm- 
strels, male and female, called Luri. Though lands 
were allotted to them, with com 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.^ 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 TraoeU in Bdoochisian and Sdnde, p. 168. 



886 THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 

monkeys Uiat 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 procore 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 Boumania. A party of these lately came 
to England. We )iave 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 origb probably identical with the Lori. 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 extends 
CTcn into Persia. Each tribe has its own, but the 
name for the generally spoken lingua franca 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 
going one day along the Marylebone Road when I 



THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 887 

met a very dark man, poorly clad, whom I took for a 
gypsy ; and no wonder, as bis eyes had ihe very ex- 
pression of the purest blood of the oldest families. 
To him I said, — 

" Makessa tu Romanes f " (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 Nana, 

^^ When I say to you, ^ BaJces%a tuMomanesf* what 
does it mean?" 

*^ It means, ^ Can you talk Rom ? ' But rdkessa is 
not a Hindu word. It 'a Panjabi." 

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- 
em 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- 

22 



888 TEE ORIGIN OF THE GTPSIE8. 

iDg of words which weie nofc genenlly intdli^ble. 
^ 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 ezc^t in 
that of his gypsies. These gypsies called th^nselTes 
and their langnage Rom, Bom meant in India a 
real gJVl* ^^^ IBiom was the general slang of the 
road, and it came from the Boms or Trablos. Onoe 
he had written all his aatobic^raphy in a book. This 
is generally done by intelligent Mahometans. This 
manuscript had nnfortonately been bnmed by his 
English wife, who told us that she had done so *' be- 
cause she was tired of seeing a book lying about 
which she could not read." 

Beader, think of losing such a life I The autobi- 
ography of an IncUan gypsy, — an abyss of adventure 
and darksome mysteries, illuminated, it may be, with 
vivid flashes of Dacoitee, while in the dislance rum- 
bled the thunder of Thuggism ! Lost, lost, irrepara- 
bly lost forever I And in this book John had embod- 
' ied a vocabulary of the real Indian Bomany 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 : Bom 
was as distinctively gypsy talk in India as in Eng- 
land, and the Trablus are the true Bomanys of India. 
What here suggests itself is, how these Indian gyp- 
sies came to be called Syrian. The gypsies which 
roam over Syria are evidently of Indian origin ; their 
language and physiognomy both declare it plainly. 
I offer as an hypothesis that bands of gypsies who 



THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 889 

have roamed from India to Syria have, after retoming, 
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 Elnglish 
gypsy words are Hindi, with an admixture of Persian, 
and do not belong to a slang of any kind. As in In- 
dia, ehuri is a knife, nak the nose, baJia hairs, and so 
on, with others which would be among the first to be 
furnished with slang equivalents. And yet these 
^6^7 gypsies are i2om, and the wife is a Somniy 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 
ignoiknce, 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 tehenkan^ 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 



840 THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 

been wasted in pursning this philological ignis fatuug. 
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 
Tohangar gypsies of Jat aflSnity in the Punjab. Won- 
derful it is that in this war of words no philologist 
has paid any attention to what the gypsies tiiemselves 
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 sage, and informed 
the chief, whose name was Chen, that the wheel 
would be made to turn only when he had married his 
sister Guin. The chief accepted the advice, the wheel 
turned round, and the name of the tribe after this 
incident became that of the combined names of the 
brother and sister, Chenguin, the appellation of all 
the gypsies of Turkey at the present day." 

The legend goes on to state that in consequence of 



THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 841 

this 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 chane^ meaning 
the moon ; ^ while guin is almost universally given as 
gan or han. That is to say, Chen-gan or -kan, or 
Zin-kan, is much commoner than Chen-guin. Now 
han is a common gypsy word for the sun. George 
Borrow gives it as sach, and I myself have heard 
Romanys call the sun kan^ though ham 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^ and in the island of 
Borneo, and it was known to the old Irish. It is in 
fac^ a spontaneous myth, or one of the kind which 
grow up from causes common to all races. It wQuld 
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 
cause would naturally be assigned. And as the pur- 
suit 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- 

^ Eoglish gypsies also call the moon thul and shone, 
* Tcdes and Traditions of the Eskimo, bj Dr. HenrjBink. London, 
1875, p. 286. 



842 THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 

ent lands we have tiie same old story of the brother 
and the sister, jnst as the Wild Hunter pursues his 
bride. 

It was Tery 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 Homanipen^ 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. This will probably not be &ir 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, — 'ATo^iyavoi, — 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 
story 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 
Persian poets, it is extremely unlikely that they ever 
received such a name from the Gorgios 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. 848 

or Western sonrce have never reflected tliat 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 'Hhe 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 I 
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 Bhotani." 

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-han or zingan. 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 
comments on my paper, to consider this sun and 



844 THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 

moon legend as frivolons. And it is trae enongh 
that German symbolizers have given ns 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 hehkdvi^ a kettle; 
another, chinamangrXi 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, ham^ 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 Bhule^ 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 &kr less 
known. 

As it ^vill interest the reader, 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. 845 



THE SUN Xm> THE HOOK. 

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 
the silver hair 1 " 

God heard him, and, taking him by the hand, led 
him into hell to afiEright his heart, and then into 
paradise to enchant his soul. 

Then He spake to him, and while He was speaking 



846 THE ORIGIN OF THE GYPSIES. 

the San began to sUne brightly and the clonds passed 
over: — 

*^ Radiant San ! Thou who art free from all stain, 
thou hast 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 
jBne 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 o£E 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. 847 

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 thou 
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. 



Thebe is a meaningless rhyme, very common 
among children* It is ^repeated while counting o£E 
those who are taking part in a game, and allotting to 
each a place. It is as follows : — 

'* Ekkeri akkerj n-kery an 
Fillisi', foUasy, Nicolas John 
Qneebee^aabee — Irishman. 
Stingle 'em — stangle 'em — buck 1 ** 

With a very little alteration in sounds, and not more 
than children make of these yerses in different places, 
this may be read as follows : — 

" 'Ekkeri, akai-ri, you kair — lb. 
Filissin follasy. Nakelas j&'n. 
Eivi, 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. Tou don't play. Goon! 
Kivi — kettle. How are you ? 
SUni — buck — buck." 

The common version of the rhyme begins with : — 

" One 'eri — two-ery, Ekkeri — &i." 

But one-ry is the exact translation of Ekkeri ; ek or 
yek being one. And it is remarkable that in 



A GYPSY MAGIV SPELL. 849 

"Hickory dickory dock, 
The rat ran np the dock ; 
The dock 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 'ew, evidently added for mere jingle, 
there remains stan or stani^ "a buck," followed by 
the very same word in English. 

With the mournful examples of Mr* Bellenden 
Kerr's eflPorts 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 " fillissi,' follasy," which mean exactly 
cJidteau 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 hakVni pdnki^ which 
Mr. Borrow calls hokkani horo^ 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 made to come to hand by depositing in 
the cellar another treasure, to which it will come by 



850 A GYPSY MAGIC SPELL. 

natural affinity and attraction. ^^ For gold, as yon sees, 
my deari, draws gold, and so if you ties up all your 
money in a pocket-handkercher and leaves it, you '11 
find it doubled. An* was n'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. 861 

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 comers of these 
rhymes. Kivi^ Btingli^ stangli^ are all gypsy ish. 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 

" Intezy, mintery, cutezy com " — 

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 ro^ds 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 nd-helas or nS-kelaa^ 
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 
horo^ 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 dudikdbin^ or to take 
lightning, possibly connected with the very old Eng- 
lish slang term of Men lighbment. There is evidently 
a great confusion of words here. And the third is to 



862 A GYPSY MAGIC SPELL. 

<< chiv mamin apri lati^^^ or to put the oath upon 
her, which explains itself. When all the deceiyed 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 belieye 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. Some years ago, 
in Tennessee, a gypsy woman robbed a farmer by the 
great trick of all he 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 
faces, high cheek bones, and long straight black hair, 
that the American is indeed reverting to the abo- 
riginal type. The Tennessee farmer and his neigh- 



A GYPSY MAGIC SPELL. 868 

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 ofiEense, an European Middle-Age penalty for 
witchcraf t» and tbe fierce torture of the red Indians. 



88 



SHELTA, THE TINKEKS* TALK. 



'' So good a proilcieiit in one qnazter of an hour that I can drink 
with any tinker in hia own language doling my Hf e." — King Henry 
theFwrth. 

OlSTE 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 " traveler " who 
did not? 

•' Bat we are givin' Romanes up very fast, — all of 
us is," he remarked. " It is a gettin' to be too blown. 
Everybody knows some Romanes now. But there 
t« 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 was the lowest of the lot ; thieves 
kennick is genteel alongside of organ-grinder's lingo, 
you know. Do you know any thin' 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 Momanea 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 
thp 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 ouce there was an alarm, 
and the whole 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 falling stones. 

" Dikk 0* dovo mush adoi a gawerin tester kokero ! " 
(Look at that man there, hiding himself I) said the 



I 



856 SBBLTA, THB TINKERS TALK. 

profesBor in Romanes. He wished to call attention 
to the grotesque figore without hurting the poor fel- 
low's feelings. 

" Tun't atraik o'l/e haryia " (He is afraid of the 
stones), I replied. 

The man looked up. " I know what joa *re Bay- 
i^S* gentlemen. That 's Romany." 

" Jnrup np, then, and come along with as." 

He followed. We walked from rock to rock, and 
over the sand by the sea, to a secluded nook under a 
clifi. Then, seated around a stone table, we b^an 
our couTersation, while the ocean, like an importu- 
nate bc^ar, surfed and foamed away, filling up the 
intervals with its mighty roaring language, whi*^ 
poets only understand or translate : — 

" Thus far, and then no more : " 
Soeh lui^aga apeaka tbe aoiiniliiig wt. 
To the wftves upon the shore. 

Our new acquaintance was ragged and disreputt^ 
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 Minklert Thari. That 's tinkers' 
language. I thought as you knew Romanes you 
might understand it. The right name for it is /Shelter 
or SJieha:' 

Out came our note-books and pencils. So tliia was 
the Shelter of which I hud heard. He wiis promptly 
asked to explain what sort of a language it was. 

" Well, gentlemen, you must know that I have no 



SEELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 857 

great gift for languages. I never could learn even 
French properly. I can conjugate the verb Stre^ — 
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 histW^ 

*^ 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 efiEected by 
going into a shop, asking for change for a sovereign, 
purchasing some tri£iing 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, Glantherin 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." 



858 



SEELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 



Then he proceeded to giye qb the words in Shelta, 
or Minklers Thari. They were as follows : — 



Shelkin gallopas, 


Selling fenuu 


Soobli,) 
Soobriy) 


Brother, friend — a man. 


BewT, 


Woman. 


Gothlin or goch'thliny 


Child. 


Yoang bewr. 


GirL 


Darrsy or deriBy 


Bread. 


Pani, 


Water (Romany). 


sdff; 


A warrant (conmion cant). 


Tack, 


A watch (cant, t. 0. boll's eye. 




Tacky an eye in Romany). 


Mush-fakery 


Umbrella mender. 


Mithani (mithni), 


Policeman. 


Ghesterman (gbesti), 


Magistrate. 


Needi-mizzlefy 


A tramp. 


Dinnessjy 


Cat 


Stall, 


Go, traveL 


BijSghin, 


Stealing. 


Biy%, 


To steal. 


Bi j^ th'eenik, 


To steal the thing. 


Crack, 


A stick. 


Monkery, 


Country. 


Prat, 


Stop, stay, lodge. 


NM askan, 


Lodging. 


Glantherin (glad'herin). 


Money, swindling. 


This word has a very 


pecnliar pronunciation. 


Sauni or sonni, 


See. 


Str^puck (reepack), 


A harlot 


Str^pnck liisk, > 
Luthrum's gothlin, ) 


Son of a harlot 


Kurrb yer pee. 


Punch your head or face. 


Pee, 


Face. 


Borers and jumpers, 


Tinkers' tools. 


Borers, 


Gimlets. 



SHELTA, THE TINKERS* TALK. 859 

JamperSy Cranks. 

Ogles, Eyes (common slang). 

Nyock, Head. 

Nyock, A penny. 

Odd, Two. 

Midgic, A shilling. 

Ny6(d)ghee, A pound. 

Sai, sy, Sixpence. 

Charrshom, '\ 

Gherrshom, >• A crown. 

Tusheroon, ) 

Tr6-nyock, Threepence. 

Trfpo-ranniel, A pot of beer. 

Thari, ) j... 

Bug, ; ^*^^- 

Can you thari Shelter? Can you bug Shelta ? Can 
you talk tinkers' language ? 

Shelter, shelta. Tinker's slang. 

Ldrkin, GirL 

Curious as perhaps indicating an affinity between 
the Hindustani larkiy a girl, and the gypsy rSkli. 

Snips, Scissors (slang). 

Dingle fakir, A bell-hanger. 

IDtunnovans, Potatoes. 

Fay (vulgarly fee), Meat. 

Our informant declared that there are vulgar forms 
of certain words. 

Gladdher, Bing the changes (cheat in 

change). 

"No minkler would have a bewr who couldn't 
gladdher." 

Beesbin, Prison. 

Tr^moon, Three months, a ^ drag.' 



860 SnSLTA, TBE TINKEB^ TALK. 

?»°»i«!' I Beer. 

Max, Spirits (slang). 

Chi7| Knife. (Romany^ a pointed 

knife, t. e. UmgueJ) 
Thari, To speak or tell. 

^^ I tharied the soobri I sonnied him." (I told the 
man I saw him.) 

Moshgraw. 

Our informant did not know whether this word, of 
Romany origin, meant, in Shelta, policeman or mag- 
istrate. 

Sori| soree, 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 : — 

" MjT name is Barney Mucafee, 
With mj borers and juropen down to mj thee (thigh). 
An' it 'b 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 word? 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. 861 

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 preliminaiy 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 
thajb 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. 

Time passed, and "the levis grene" had fallen 



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 T 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 whs the wanderer of the road. Near the city 
are three distinct g}'psyries, where in summer-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 f ar'^between, — now swarmed 
as fruit dealers and boot-blacks in every lane ; Grer- 
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, — suggestive of the road and Roma- 
nys and London, and all that is most traveler-esque. 
It was the tap, tap, tap of a hammer and the clang 
of tin, and I 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. 868 

greeted, I read in bis Irish face long rambles on tbe 
roads. 

" Good-morning 1 " 

" Grood-momin', sorr I " 

" You 're an old traveler ? " 

"I am, sorr." 

" Can you rakker Romanes ? " 

" I can, sorr I " 

" Pen yer ^wtv." (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." 

" All but one ? " 

" An' what 's that wan, sorr ? " 

"Can you thari shelta^ subltf*^ 

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, 
he 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, — 

" Sheltay is it ? An' I can talk it. An' there 's not 
six min livin' as can talk it as I do." 

" Do you knoT^, I think it 's yery remarkable that 
you can talk Shelta." 



864 



SHBLTA, TBS TINKEBS TALX. 



*' An* begom, I tlunk it 's very remarkable, eorr, 
that ye sboald know there is eucli a langnage." 

^ Will yoa gire me a lessoD?" 

"TrothlwilL" 

I went into tJie home and Inongbt oat a note-book. 
One of tbe serranta brought me a chair. Owen 
went on soldering a tin dish, and I proceeded to take 
down from him the ftdlowing list of words in ShxUa : 



ThMdy, 


Fut, (Oeinnt. Irish). 


StnwD, 


THa. 


SlyhunkM, 


Hone. 


Ldcheen, 


GirL 


Soobli, 


Male, man. 


Binn; soobti, 


Boy. 


Binnj, 


SmaU, 


Chimmel, 


Stick. 


Gh'raths, grata, 


Hat. 


Griffin, or grnffin, 


Coat 


IW.pes, 


Tnmsere. 




Shoes. 


Grascot, 


Waistcoat. 


Skoich, OF Bkoi, 


Button. 


Numpii, 




Gorhead, or godbed. 


Money. 


Merrih, 


Nose (?). 


Nyock, 


Head. 


Gmigh, 


Hair. 


Kab^, or kyni, 


Ears (Bomsny, fern). 


M^Ithog, 


Inner shirt. 


M^dthel, 


Black. 


Cunoeli, 


Potatoes. 


Faih4, or feyfi, 


Meat (JioiL Gaelic). 


Muogh, 


Pig (muek. IriBh). 


Micsli, inisti, 


To go (origin of " miszle "?). 


Mailj'as, or moillba*, 






Gaelic). 



r 



SBELTA, TEE TINKERS^ TALK. 



865 



^Shaidyog, 


Policeman. 


B^pmiy 


To steal. 


Shoich, 


Water, blood, liquid. 


Alemnochy 


Milk. 


BSglaiiy or r^lan, 


Hammer. 


Goppa, 


Furnace, smith (ffobha, a 




smith. Gkielio). 


Ttoy, 


A heating-iron. 


Ehoi, 


Pincers. 


Chimmes (compare ehimmd)^ 


Wood or stick. 


Mailyas, 


Arms. 


Eoras, 


Legs (co8f leg. Gaelic). 


Skoih5pa, 


Whisky. 


Bulla (uU as in guO)^ 


A letter. 


Thari, 


Word, language. 


Mash, 


Umbrella (slang). 


Lyesken cherps, 


Telling fortunes. 


Loshoolsy 


Flowers (lus, herb or flower ? 




Gaelic). 


Dainoch, 


To lose. 


Chaldroch, 


Knife (ecddoeky sharply 




pointed. ^ Gaelic). 


Bog, 


To get 


Masheen, 


Cat 


Cfimbra, 


Dog. 


Laprogh, 


Goose, duck. 


Ealdihog, 


Hen. 


Rnmogh, 


Egg. 


Ki^na, 


House (kerij old gypsy and 




modern cant). 


Rawg, 


Wagon. 


Gnllenmoch, 


Shoes. 


AnSlt, 


To sweep, to broom. 


Aoalken, 


To wash. 


lyerri, 


Bread. 


R'ghoglin (goghleen), 


To laugh. 



866 



SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 



Krfidjiii} 



Oara, 

Lashool) 

Moliuii, 6r moiyeniy 

Moryenni yooky 
Gyamiy 



To stop, stay, sit, lodge, re- 

Town. 

Nice (lachool. Irish). 

Good (mtn, pleasant Gae- 

Kc). 
Gk)od man. 
Bad (cam. Gaelic). 

Probably Uie origin of the common canting term 
gammy ^ bad. 

Ishkimmisky Drank (mUgeach. Gaelic). 

Roglan, A four-wheeled vehicle. 

Loroh, A two-wheeled vehicle. 

Smuggle, Anvil. 

Granya, Nail. 

Biaglon, Iron. 

GOshtlk, Vessel of any kind. 

Tddhi, 4i^, Coal ; f ael of any kind. 

Grawder, Solder. 

Tanyok, Halfpenny. 
(Query tOni^ littie, Romany, and nyoh^ a head.) 



Chlorhin, 


To hear. 


Stlnain, 


To see. 


Salkaneoch, 


To taste, take. 


Mailyen, 


To feel {eumailj to hold. 




Gaelic). 


Crowder, 


String. 


SobK 


(?) 


Mislain, 


Baining (mizzle ?)• 


Goo-ope, gtlop) 


Cold. 


Skoichen, 


Rain. 


Thomyok, 


Magistrate. 


Shadyog, 


PoKce. 


Bladhunk, 


Prison. 


Bogh, 


To get. 



SHELTAy THE TINKERS' TALK. 



867 



Salt, 

Straihmed, 
Gk)dienia, gottema, 

[A very rare oldi^ord.] 
Dy0kS8, or Jakas, 

Misli, 

To mj-dealy 

Lychyen, 

GraDnis, 

Skolaia, 

Skolaiyamiy 

Nyok, 

Lurk, 

Menoch, 

Glorhoch, 

Koris, 

Tashi sUngomai, 

Gorheid, 

Tomgarheid (t. e. big money), 

Skawfer, skawper, 

Tomnumpa, 

Terri, 

Gboi, 

Nyadas, 

£radyin, 

Tarryin, 

KorTieh, 

Miseli, 

Krad'hyl, 

Th-mddusk, 

Khaihed, 

Bord, 

Grainyog, 

Bamog, 

Aidh, 



Arrested, taken. 
A year. 
Policeman. 

Gorgio, Gentile ; one not of 

the class. 
Coming, to come, to send. 
To me. 
People. 
Ejiow. 
To write. 
A good scholar. 
Head. 
Eye. 
Nose. 
Ear. 
Feet. 

To read the newspaper. 
Money. 
Gold. 
Silver. 
Bank-note. 
Coal. 
Pat 
Table. 

Being, lying. 
Rope. 
Box. 
Quick. 
Slow. 
Door. 

Chair (hhakir. Irish). 
Table. 
Window. 

Butter. 



868 



SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 



Okoaneh, A priest 

Thus explained in a yery Irish manner : ^^ OkanneJ^ 
or Koany^ is a 8<icred man, and kuni in Romany means 
secret. An' sacret and sacred^ sure, are all the same." 



Shli^ma, 


Smoke, pipe. 


Munches, 


Tobacco. 


Khadjogs, 


Stones. 


Tiesk, 


Fish (iasg, Gaelic). 


C&b, 


Cabbage. 


Cherpin, 


Book. 


This appears to be 


ynlgar. 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, 


VV rite to my woman. 


Gritche, 


Dinner. 


Grappa, 


Sapper. 


Goihed, 


To leave, lay down. 


LUrks, 


Eyes. 


Ainoch, 


Thing. 


Glisp, 


To faU, let fall. 


Clishpen, 


To break by letting fall. 


Guth, gat, 


Black. 


Grothni, gachlin, 


Child. 


Sty^mon, 


Rat 


Kr^poch, 


Cat 


Granmen, 


With child. 


LoshQn, 


Sweet 


Sham, 


To own. 


L'yogh, 


To lose. 


CnmOm, 


Sheep. 


Khadyog, 


Stone. 


Nglou, 


NaU. 



SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 



869 



Gial, 
Talosk, 
Laprogh, 
Madel, 
Carob) 

Labran, luber. 
Thorn, 

Mish it tbom, 
Subli, or soobli, 



Yellow, red. 

Weather. 

Bird. 

Tail. 

To cut. 

To hit 

Violently. 



'Sit it hard. 

Man {siMachf a vagrant. 
Gkielic). 

There you are, readers I Make good cheer of it, as 
Panurge said of vrbat 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 pikiaa^ as he gave it. 

To the foregoing I add the numerals and a few 



phrases : — 




Hain, or been, 


One. 


Do,' 


Two. 


Tri, 


Three. 


Ch/air, or k*hair, 


Four. 


Good, 


Five. 


She, or shay. 


Six. 


Schaacht, or scbach', 


Seven. 


Ocht, 


Eight. 


Ayen, or nai, 


Nine. 


Dy'ai, djai, or dai. 


Ten. 


Hinniadh, 


Eleven. 


Do yed'h. 


Twelve. 


Trin yedh, 


Thirteen. 


Ji'hair yedh, etc.. 


Fourteen, etc 


24 





870 SHELTA, THE TINKERS' TALK. 

Tat 'ill chesin ogomsa, That belongs to me. 

GranDb to my deal. It belongs to me. 

Dioch man krady in in this I am staying here. 

nadas, 

Tash ^milesh, He is staying there. 

Boghin the brass, Cooking the food. 

My deal is mislin, I am going. 

The nidias of the ki^na, The people of the hoase 

don't granny what we 're don't know what we 're 

a tharyin, saying. 

This WBJS 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 : — 

'* Coflson kailyah corrum me morro sari. 
Me gul ogalyach mir ; 
Bahet manent trasha moroch 
Me tu sosti mo di^e." 

" Comiug 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 BOBti^ " 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 



SHELTA, THE TINKERS* TALK. 871 

Irish, Welsh, or Graelic. In pronunciation it appears 
to 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 
souL)d. 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 Hot- 
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 all. To me there is in it something 
very weird and strange. I cannot well say why ; it 
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-side 
to diink, and who will, if sarprised 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 
Ewigkeit^ take down a vocabulary of the language ? 
Let it be a lady par prSference^ — 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 notre 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 I 



i/S'?'':-.-^ 




3 2044 037 296 993 





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