WHO has not heard of the gypsies? Who has not seen these strange wanderers? Who are they? Where did they come from? What about them?

The gypsies are a mysterious, vagabond race, classed with vagrants and thieves, usually living in clans, and scattered over the whole earth. They abound in every part of Europe, in Asia, and North Africa; more limited numbers stroll through the United States and Mexico, and they are found even in distant Australia. It is estimated that at the present time there are five million gypsies on the globe.  (1882) 

As a general thing, they have no fixed habitation, but wander from place to place in the capacity of tinkers, musicians, fortune-tellers, horse-traders, cattle-doctors, etc., etc. The true gypsy is a versatile creature, being, as occasion may suit, a preacher, actor, showman, or trader, but ever a sharper, who will turn the penny to his own advantage.

In appearance, the gypsies are about the same in all countries, the prevailing characteristics being, tawniness of skin, long black hair, sparkling black eyes, snowy white teeth, and lithe and slender forms. They are quite insensible to cold and wet, and are capable of enduring great fatigue. Probably many generations of out-door life has had much to do with this. The gypsies are a proverb for their squalor, their indolent and careless life, and the vices of smoking and drinking. Many of the women, as well as the men, both chew and smoke tobacco.

The name gypsy is quite commonly supposed to be derived from the word "Egyptian." They call themselves Pharaons, in allusion to Pharaoh; and Homa, a Coptic word, which means men; and Sinte, probably from the Sind, or Indus, river, where large numbers are to be found. 

Among the nations they are known by epithets somewhat expressive of their character. The Hollanders call them Heidens, that is, heathens; in Denmark and Sweden they are known as Tartars; the German nickname for them is Zieh-gauner, wandering 

rogues; in Spain they are called Gitanos, a word expressing their craftiness; their Arabianname is Harami, villains; in the Cypriote tongue (on the Isle of Cyprus) they are known by a word which means "a sword"; the Hungarians call them Pharao-nepek, 

Pharaoh's people; etc. In France they are called Bohemians, because when they first came to Paris, they traveled through Bohemia. The Scotch call them Tinklers, probably a mere variation of the word tinker. In Russia, Turkey, and Italy, they are called Zigani, Zingarri, and Zingani, which terms are supposed to be derived from a gypsy root which means "the dark men of Zind."

Their origin, and the motives which led them to forsake their native soil, and become wanderers on the globe, are questions, which have never been positively settled, though very wise heads have devoted much attention to the subject. It is a point upon which volumes have been written by the most careful thinkers, English, French, and German. Without doubt, portions of the gypsies in their migrations came from Egypt, or at least, through Egypt. Writers on gyptology believe them to have made their first appearance in Europe during the Middle Ages, and then afterwards, in vast hordes, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. And it is quite generally maintained that the language denotes an East Indian origin. Many writers conjecture that the wars of the tyrant Tamerlane were the cause of this general stampede of the gypsies. 

In 1427 a band of these nomads first appeared at the gates of Paris, but the authorities would not allow them to enter the city. Others soon made their appearance, and were scattered by thousands through Germany, Spain, England, Russia, and, indeed, to the remotest parts of Europe.

The gypsies' own story, which they most frequently gave of themselves was, that they originally came from "Little Egypt," that the king of Hungary had compelled four thousand of them to be baptized, had slain the remainder, and condemned the baptized ones to wander seven years. Another version was that the Saracens had gone to war with them in Egypt, had subdued them, and forced them to renounce Christianity; that afterwards they had been conquered by the Christians, and that the pope had laid on them, as a penance for the renunciation of the true faith, a life of wandering for seven years, during which time they were not to stay in a bed! Many other idle tales they also related.



IN regard to the morals of the gypsies, but little need be said; it is a strange medley of evil and good, with a large preponderance of the evil. One writer says their principal faults are childish vanity, professional cunning, indolence, and a bad temper. It is said, however, that a gypsy parent never chastises a small child; but the grown-up son will take the severest castigation from the hand of his father without a look of resentment.

The gypsies assent outwardly to the religion of the country where they are, whether Christian, Jew, or Mahometan. In their own language, which is a very strange one, there is no word for God, soul, or immortality, Mr. George Borrow spent several years among the Spanish gypsies, studying their character, language and ways. He says one of their sayings is, "Never pay any debts except those owing to your own kindred." This Mr. Borrow was so interested in this strange people that he translated the Bible into their vernacular, which is called the Gitano Version. It is now published by the British Foreign Bible Society. The gypsies believe in the doctrine of transmigration of souls, and for this reason will not eat eels, and various other animal foods.

There is no literature in the gypsy tongue worthy the name: they have no alphabet, and no ideas of education, a few rude ballads, some clannish dance songs, and a tangled mass of foolish tales being their heritage in this respect. Their language is supposed to be a near relation of the old Hindoo Sanskrit, but like the Jews, they have adopted many words and terms into their vocabulary from all the peoples where they have wandered. 

Here is a stanza from one of their ballads, which sets forth a leading trait of this people: 

"There runs a swine down yonder hill,

As fast as e'er he can; 

And as he runs, he crieth still, 

'Come, steal me, gypsy man.'"

In their own dialect, this would read, 

Paraquel luchipen abajo

Abillela un ba lichoro, 

Abillela a goli goli,

Ustilame Caloro.

The gypsy in his language would count ten thus: 

yek, dui, trin, shtar, pantsh, swb, efta, 

1  2  3  4  5  6  7

ochdo, ennia, desh. 

8   9  10

Not long after the gypsy hordes deluged Europe, very severe edicts were passed against them by different kingdoms. Being regarded as "wicked heathen and traffickers with Satan," different governments vied with each other in taking the severest measures to rid their realms of such a terrible nuisance. They were whipped, imprisoned, banished, hanged, drowned, and degraded in a variety of ways; but like the frogs of Egypt, there they were still.

At a later period, efforts were made by some of the German sovereigns to have them live in fixed habitations, become cultivators of the soil, and have their children educated. By a royal edict they were called New Bauern, that is, "new peasants." But these humane efforts were ineffectual in reclaiming these Ishmaelites from their strange life. Efforts were likewise made in England, nearly fifty years since, by a kind clergyman, to have them become civilized, and dwell in fixed residences, but with comparatively little effect. 

They still continue their nomadic life, and live in tribes as before. Even gypsy children brought up in Christian families, far from their clan, seem driven by some mysterious impulse to run away from their civilized homes as soon as a favorable opportunity presents itself.

The gypsies abound in royal titles, as queens, dukes, counts, etc. No later than 1878, Queen Victoria was received at Dunbar, Scotland, by a gypsy queen, of the Reynolds clan, "dressed in a black robe, with white silk trimmings, and over her head a yellow handkerchief." This gypsy queen had her attendants, who were attired in "purple velvet gowns and scarlet coats." During the same year, Matilda Stanley, the gypsy queen of the United States, was royally buried at Dayton, Ohio, by her followers.

Much more might be written about this strange people. But we close, by advising the reader never to deal with the gypsies, nor to encourage them in their unlawful life by allowing them to practice their sooth-saying arts for his benefit.




 Let this truth never be forgotten. By the 

proper education of the head, he will 

be taught what is good and what is 

evil, what is wise and what is foolish, 

what is right and what is wrong. By 

the proper education of the heart, he 

will be taught to love what is good, 

wise and right, and to hate what is 

evil, foolish and wrong. And by 

proper education of the hand, he will 

be enabled to supply his wants, and 

to assist those around him.


MAKE thy life one brave endeavor, one grand, sweet song.


ONE of the sweetest passages in the 

Bible is this: "Underneath are the 

everlasting arms." It is not often 

preached from; perhaps because it is 

felt to be so much richer and more 

touching than anything ministers can 

say about it. But what a vivid 

idea it gives of the divine support! 

God knoweth our feebleness. He 

remembers that we are dust.