Historical Reprints History Gypsies, The : The English Gypsies and Their Language

Gypsies, The : The English Gypsies and Their Language

Gypsies, The : The English Gypsies and Their Language
Catalog # SKU1645
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Charles G. Leland


The Gypsies
The English Gypsies
and Their Language

2 Books in One Volume!

Charles G. Leland

I have frequently been asked, "Why do you take an interest in gypsies?" And it is not so easy to answer. Why, indeed? In Spain one who has been fascinated by them is called one of the aficion, or affection, or "fancy;" he is an aficionado, or affected unto them, and people there know perfectly what it means, for every Spaniard is at heart a Bohemian.

From the Introduction:

He feels what a charm there is in a wandering life, in camping in lonely places, under old chestnut-trees, near towering cliffs, al pasar del arroyo, by the rivulets among the rocks. He thinks of the wine skin and wheaten cake when one was hungry on the road, of the mules and tinkling bells, the fire by night, and the cigarito, smoked till he fell asleep. Then he remembers the gypsies who came to the camp, and the black-eyed girl who told him his fortune, and all that followed in the rosy dawn and ever onward into starry night.

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

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

This man understands it. So, too, does many an Englishman. But I cannot tell you why. Why do I love to wander on the roads to hear the birds; to see old church towers afar, rising over fringes of forest, a river and a bridge in the foreground, and an ancient castle beyond, with a modern village springing up about it, just as at the foot of the burg there lies the falling trunk of an old tree, around which weeds and flowers are springing up, nourished by its decay? Why love these better than pictures, and with a more than fine-art feeling? Because on the roads, among such scenes, between the hedge-rows and by the river, I find the wanderers who properly inhabit not the houses but the scene, not a part but the whole. These are the gypsies, who live like the birds and hares, not of the house-born or the town-bred, but free and at home only with nature.

I am at some pleasant watering-place, no matter where. Let it be Torquay, or Ilfracombe, or Aberystwith, or Bath, or Bournemouth, or Hastings. I find out what old churches, castles, towns, towers, manors, lakes, forests, fairy-wells, or other charms of England lie within twenty miles. Then I take my staff and sketch-book, and set out on my day's pilgrimage. 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, wending their way to the South, and wish that you could fly with them,-anywhere, anywhere over the world and into adventure,-then you are not far in spirit from the kingdom of Bohemia and its seven castles, in the deep windows of which Æolian wind-harps sing forever.

Now, as you wander along, it may be that in the wood and by some grassy nook you will hear voices, and see the gleam of a red garment, and then find a man of the roads, with dusky wife and child. You speak one word, "Sarishan!" and you are introduced. These people are like birds and bees, they belong to out-of-doors and nature. If you can chirp or buzz a little in their language and know their ways, you will find out, as you sit in the forest, why he who loves green bushes and mossy rocks is glad to fly from cities, and likes to be free of the joyous citizenship 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 knowing that the chances were that I should meet within an hour some wanderer with whom I should have in common certain acquaintances. These be indeed humble folk, but with nature and summer walks they make me at home. In merrie England I could nowhere be a stranger if I would, and that with people who cannot read; and the English-born Romany rye, or gentleman speaking gypsy, would in like manner be everywhere at home in America.

There was a gypsy family always roaming between Windsor and London, and the first words taught to their youngest child were "Romany rye!" and these it was trained to address to me. The little tot came up to me,-I had never heard her speak before,-a little brown-faced, black-eyed thing, and said, "How-do, Omany 'eye?" and great was the triumph and rejoicing and laughter 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 dangerous 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 without fear.

They are human, but in their lives they are between man as he lives in houses and the bee and bird and fox, and I cannot help believing that those who have no sympathy with them have none 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 unfelt by Mr. Cimabue 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, naïve, picturesque type of woman's beauty-the perfection of natural beauty-is rapidly vanishing in every country, and being replaced by the mingled real and unreal attractiveness of "cleverness," intellect, and fashion. No doubt the newer tend to higher forms of culture, but it is not without pain that he who has been "in the spirit" in the old Sabbath of the soul, and in its quiet, solemn sunset, sees it all vanishing.

It will all be gone in a few years.

I doubt very much whether it will be possible for the most unaffectedly natural writer to preserve any of its hieroglyphics for future Champollions of sentiment to interpret. In the coming days, when man shall have developed new senses, and when the blessed sun himself shall perhaps have been supplanted by some tremendous electrical 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 scholars 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 dishonesty, need not pretend to appreciate anything more in Callot's etchings than the skillful management of the needle and the acids.

Truly they are but rags themselves;
the last rags of the old romance
which connected man with nature.


The Gypsies Preface.
The Russian Gypsies.
I. Austrian Gypsies.
II. Austrian Gypsies In Philadelphia.
English Gypsies.
Welsh Gypsies.
American Gypsies.
Gypsies In The East.
Gypsy Names And Family Characteristics.
Gypsy Stories In Romany
The Origin Of The Gypsies.
A Gypsy Magic Spell.
Shelta, The Tinkers' Talk.

The English Gipsies and Their Language
Chapter I. Introductory.
Chapter II. A Gipsy Cottage.
Chapter III. The Gipsy Tinker.
Chapter IV. Gipsy Respect For The Dead.
Chapter V. Gipsy Letters.
Chapter VI. Gipsy Words Which Have Passed Into English Slang.
Chapter VII. Proverbs And Chance Phrases.
Chapter VIII. Indications Of The Indian Origin Of The Gipsies.
Chapter IX. Miscellanea.
Chapter X. Gipsies In Egypt.
Rommani Gudli; Or, Gipsy Stories And Fables.

Softcover, 8¼" x 10¾", 385+ pages
Perfect-Bound - Large Print Edition

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