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THE LIBRARY MAGAZINE.

VOLUME 3, 1880.

THE RUSSIAN GIPSIES.

It is, I believe, seldom observed that the world is so far from hav ing quitted the romantic or sentimental 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 marvellous or curious, and if we have not yet a science of curiosities, 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 general 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 primæval kumbo-cephalic skulls, and appears to her votaries arrayed, not in silk attire, but in strange fragments of leather from ancient Irish graves, or in cloth from Lacustrine villages. She glitters with the quaint jewellery 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 invites us to explore mysterious caves, to pic-nic among megalithic monuments, and speculate on pictured Scottish stones. In short, she engages man to investigate 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 everybody in every age.

Ad interim, before the science of curiosities is segregated from that of ethnology, I may observe that one of the marvels in the lat

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ter is that, among all the subdivisions of the human race there are only two which have been apparently from their beginning set apart, marked, and cosmopolite, ever living among others and yet reserved unto themselves. These are the Jew and the Gipsy. 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 the Chosen People has been apparently confirmed 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 is. the gipsy. The Jew may be more ancient, but even the authentic origin of the Rommany is lost in ancient Aryan record, and strictly speaking his is a prehistoric caste. Among the hundred and fifty wandering tribes of India and Persia, some of them Turanian, some Aryan, and others mixed, it is of course impossible to identify the exact origin of the European gipsy. One thing we know, that from the tenth to the twelfth century, and probably much later on, India threw out from her northern half a vast multitude of very troublesome indwellers. What with Buddhist, Brahmin, and Mahometan wars-invaders outlaw. ing invaded-the number of out-castes became alarmingly great. To these the Jats, who, according to Captain Burton, constituted the main stock of our gipsies, 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 gipsies, 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 dead, handles corpses, skins beasts, and performs other functions, all of which were appropriated by, and became peculiar to, gipsies in several countries in Europe, notably in Den mark and Holland, for several centuries after their arrival there. The Dom of the present day also sells baskets, and wanders with a tent; he is altogether gipsy. It is remarkable that he, living in a hot climate, drinks ardent spirits to excess, being by no means a "temperate Hindu," and that even in extreme old age his hair sel. dom turns white, which is a noted peculiarity among our own gip. sies of pure blood. I know and have lately seen a gipsy woman,

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

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nearly a hundred years old, whose curling hair is black, or hardly perceptibly changed. It is extremely probable that the Dom, men. tioned as a caste even in the Vedas, gave the name to the Rom. The Dom calls his wife a Domni, and being a Dom is "Domnipana.' In English gipsy, the same words are expressed by Rom, romni, and romnipen. D, be it observed, very often changes to r in its transfer from Hindu to Rommany. Thus doi, Ia wooden spoon," becomes in gipsy 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 Cophts, who were more abundant in Egypt when the first gipsies went there, the word for man is romi, and after leaving Greece and the Levant, or Rum, it would be natural for the wanderers to be called Rumi. But the Dom was in all probability the parent stock of the gipsy 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 gipsies speaking HindiPersian, 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 with the Dom-and the circumstantial evidence, it must be admitted, is very strong-but little remains to seek, since, according to the Vedas, the Doms are Hindu.*

Among the tribes whose union formed the European gipsy was, in all probability, that of the Nats, consisting of singing and dancing girls, and male musicians and acrobats. Of these, we are told that not less than ten thousand luteplayers and minstrels, under the name of Luri, were once sent to Persia as a present to a king, whose land was then without music 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 gipsy, and it is supposed that from them are possibly derived the names-Zingan, Zigeuner, Zingaro, &c.-by which gipsies are known in so many lands. From Mr. Arnold's late work on Persia, the reader may learn that the Eeli, who constitute the majority of the inhabitants of the southern portion of that country, are Aryan nomads, and apparently gipsies. There are, also, in India, the Banjari or wandering merchants, and many other tribes, all spoken of as gipsies by those who know them.

As regards the great admixture of Persian with Hindu in good Rommany, it is quite unmistakable, though I can recall, no writer who has attached sufficient importance to a fact which identifies gipsies with what is almost pre-eminently the land of gipsies. I *Since writing thi passage, I have met with a Mahometan Hindu who had lived with Indian gipies. He confirmed in many ways his assertion that the real gipsies of India themselves and their language "Rom."

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once had the pleasure of taking a Nile journey in company with Prince S, à Persian, and in most cases when I asked my friend what this or that gipsy word meant, he gave me its correct mean ing, after a little thought, and then added, in his imperfect English. "What for you want to know such word?-that old word—that no more used. Only common people-old peasant woman use that word-gentleman no want to know him." But I did want to know him very much. I can remember that one night when our bon prince had thus held forth, we had dancing girls, or Almeh, on board, and one was very young and pretty. I was told that she was a gipsy, but she spoke no Rommany. Yet her panther eyes, and serpent smile, and beauté du diable, were not Egyptian, but of the Indian kalo-ratt-the dark blood, which once known is known forever. I forgot her, however, for a long time-until the other night in 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 gispy hut, when its master, Joshua Cooper, now dead, pointing to a swan, asked me for its name in gipsy. I replied, "Boro pappin."

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No, rya. Boro pappin is a big goose.' Súkkú is the real gipsy word. It is very old, and very few Rommany know it.'

A few days after, when my Persian friend was dining with me at the Langham Hotel, I asked him if he knew what Sakkú meant? By way of reply, he, not being able to recall the English word, waved his 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 address to a waterfowl, replied

Sákkú-one ver' big bird, like one swen-but he not swen. He like the man who carry too much water up stairs his head in Constinople. That bird all same that man. He sakkia all same wheel

that you see get water up stairs in Egypt."

This was explanatory but far from satisfactory. The prince, - however, was mindful of me, and the next day I received from the Persian embassy, the word elegantly written in Persian, with the translation-"a pelican.' Then it was all clear enough, for the pelican bears water in the bag under its bill. When the gipsies came to Europe, they named animals after those which resembled them in Asia. A dog they call juckal from a jackal, and a swan sákkú, or pelican, because it so greatly resembles it. The Hindu bandarus or monkey they have changed to bombaros, but why Tom Cooper should declare that it is pugasah or pukkus-asa, I do not know. Perhaps some pundit may enlighten me. As little can I

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

conjecture the meaning of the prefix mod or mode, which I learned on the road near Weymouth from a very ancient tinker, a man so battered, tattered, seamed, riven, and wrinkled, that he looked like a petrification. 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 England, until his mate came up, an alter ego, so excellent in antiquity, wrinkles, knobbiness, and rags, that he surpassed the vagabond pictures, not only of Callot, Doré, and Goya, but even the unknown Spanish maker of a picture, which I met with but yesterday for sale, and which for infinite poverty defied anything I ever saw encanvassed. These poor men, who seemed at first amazed that I should speak to them at all, when I spoke Rommany, at once called me brother." When I asked the younger his name, he sank his voice to a whisper, and, with a furtive air, said— Kámlo-Lovel, you know."

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What do you call yourself in the way of business?" I asked. Katsamengro, I suppose.'

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Now Katsamengro means scissors-master.

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But chivó is deeper."

'Yes. But the deepest of all, master, is Mod-angaréngro. For you see that the right word for coals isn't wongur, as Rommanis generally say, but Angára."

Now angára, as Pott and Benfey indicate, is pure Sanskrit for coals, and angaréngro 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 gipsy with any one stock of the wandering races of India. Among those who left that country were men of different castes and different colour, varying from the pure northern invader to the negro-like southern Indian. 1n the Danubian principalities there are at the pre ent day three kinds of gipsies-one very dark and barbarous, another light brown and more intelligent, and the third, or élite, of yellow pine complexion, as American boys characterise the hue of quadroons. Even in England there are straight-haired and curly-haired Rommanis, the two indicating not a difference resulting from white admixture, but entirely different original stocks.

It will, I trust, be admitted even from these remarks that Rommanology, or that subdivision of ethnology which treats of gipsies, is both practical and curious. It deals with the only race save one which has long penetrated into every village which European civilisation has ever touched. He who speaks Rommany need be a stranger in few lands, for on every road in Europe and America, in most of Asia, and even in Northern Africa, he will meet those with whom a very few words. may at once establish a peculiar understanding. For of all things understood by this widely-spread

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