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Romano Lavo-Lil Romany Dictionary Gypsy Dictionary by George Borrow

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Doing so is much better than moving rapidly on, and affecting to take
no notice of him, for then he will infallibly follow you to the end
of the street, offering you the ring on more reasonable terms at
every step, perhaps concluding at last, as a ring-dropper once did to
the writer, "I'll tell you what, sir; as I am in a hurry, and rather
hard up, you shall have the valuable for a bull, for a crown; you
shall indeed, sir, so help me--"

Three of the most famous of the Hindity smiths have been immortalised
by the Gypsies in the following bit of verse:

Mickie, Huwie and Larry,
Trin Hindity-mengre fashiono vangust-engre.

Mickie, Huwie and Larry bold,
Three Irish brothers, as I am told,
Who make false rings, that pass for gold.

Of these fashiono-vangust brothers, the most remarkable is Mike--Old
Mike, as he is generally called. He was born in the county Kerry,
and educated at a hedge-school, where he learned to read and write
English, after a fashion, and acquired the seventeen letters of the
Irish alphabet, each of which is named after a particular tree.
Leaving school he was apprenticed to a blacksmith, from whom he ran
away, and enlisted into the service of that illustrious monarch,
George the Third, some of whose battles he had the honour of fighting
in the Peninsula and France. Discharged from the army at the Peace,
with the noble donation of thirty shillings, or one month's pay, he
returned to Ireland, took to himself a wife, and commenced tinker.
Becoming dissatisfied with his native soil he passed over to England,
and settling for some time at "Brummagem," took lessons from certain
cunning smiths in the art of making fashiono vangusties. The next
forty years of his life he spent in wandering about Britain, attended
by his faithful partner, who not only disposed of his tin articles
and false rings, but also bore him seventeen children, all of whom
are alive, somewhere or other, and thriving too, one of them indeed
having attained to the dignity of American senator. Some of his
adventures, during his wanderings, were in the highest degree
extraordinary. Of late years he has chiefly resided in the vicinity
of London, spending his winters at Wandsworth, and his summers on the
Flats, near Epping Forest; in one or the other of which places you
may see Old Mike on a Sunday evening, provided the weather is
tolerably fine, seated near his little caravan, with his wife by his
side--not the wife who bore him the seventeen children, who has been
dead for some years, but his second wife, a nice, elderly Irish ban
from the county of Cork, who can tell fortunes, say her prayers in
Irish, and is nearly as good a hand at selling her lord and master's
tin articles and false rings as her predecessor. Lucky for Mike that
he got such a second partner! and luckier still that at his age of
seventy-nine he retains all his faculties, and is able to work for
his daily bread, with at least the skill and cunning of his two
brothers, both of whom are much younger men than himself, whose
adventures have been somewhat similar to his own, and who, singularly
enough, have come to live near him in his latter days. Both these
brothers are highly remarkable men. Huwie is the most civil-spoken
person in or about London, and Larry a man of the most terrible
tongue, and perhaps the most desperate fighter ever seen; always
willing to attack half a dozen men, if necessary, and afraid of no
one in the world, save one--Mike, old Mike, who can tame him in his
fiercest moods by merely holding up his finger. Oh, a truly
remarkable man is old Mike! and a pleasure and an advantage it is to
any one of a philosophical mind to be acquainted with him, and to
listen to him. He is much more than a fashiono-vangust-engro.
Amongst other things he is a theologian--Irish theologian--and quite
competent to fill the chair of theology at the University of
Maynooth. He can tell you a great many things connected with a
certain person, which, with all your research, you would never find
in Scripture. He can tell you how the Saviour, when hanging on the
cross, became athirst, and told St. Peter, who stood at the foot of
it, to fetch Him a cup of water from a dirty puddle in the
neighbourhood, and how St. Peter--however, better not relate the
legend, though a highly curious one. Then he can repeat to you
blessed verses, as he calls them, by dozens; not of David, but of one
quite as good, as he will tell you, namely, Timothy O'Sullivan; and
who, you will say, was Timothy O'Sullivan? Why, Ty Gaelach, to be
sure. And who was Ty Gaelach? An Irish peasant-poet of the last
century, who wrote spiritual songs, some of them by no means bad
ones, and who was called Gaelach, or Gael, from his abhorrence of the
English race and of the English language, of which he scarcely
understood a word. Then is Ty Irish for Timothy? Why, no! though
very stupidly supposed to be so. Ty is Teague, which is neither
Greek nor Irish, but a glorious old Northern name, carried into
Ireland by the brave old heathen Danes. Ty or Teague is the same as
Tycho. Ty or Teague Gaelach is as much as to say Tycho Gaelach; and
Tycho Brahe is as much as to say Teague Brahe.


The second great Gypsyry is on the Middlesex side of the river, and
is distant about three miles, as the crow flies, from that of
Wandsworth. Strange as it may seem, it is not far distant from the
most fashionable part of London; from the beautiful squares, noble
streets, and thousand palaces of Tyburnia, a region which, though
only a small part of the enormous metropolis, can show more beautiful
edifices, wealth, elegance, and luxury, than all foreign capitals put
together. After passing Tyburnia, and going more than halfway down
Notting Hill, you turn to the right, and proceed along a tolerably
genteel street till it divides into two, one of which looks more like
a lane than a street, and which is on the left hand, and bears the
name of Pottery Lane. Go along this lane, and you will presently
find yourself amongst a number of low, uncouth-looking sheds, open at
the sides, and containing an immense quantity of earthen chimney-
pots, pantiles, fancy-bricks, and similar articles. This place is
called the Potteries, and gives the name of Pottery Lane to the lane
through which you have just passed. A dirty little road goes through
it, which you must follow, and presently turning to your left, you
will enter a little, filthy street, and going some way down it, you
will see, on your right hand, a little, open bit of ground, chock-
full of crazy, battered caravans of all colours--some yellow, some
green, some red. Dark men, wild-looking, witch-like women, and
yellow-faced children are at the doors of the caravans, or wending
their way through the narrow spaces left for transit between the
vehicles. You have now arrived at the second grand Gypsyry of
London--you are amongst the Romany Chals of the Potteries, called in
Gypsy the Koromengreskoe Tan, or the place of the fellows who make
pots; in which place certain Gypsies have settled, not with the view
of making pots, an employment which they utterly eschew, but simply
because it is convenient to them, and suits their fancy.

A goodly collection of Gypsies you will find in that little nook,
crowded with caravans. Most of them are Tatchey Romany, real
Gypsies, "long-established people, of the old order." Amongst them
are Ratzie-mescroes, Hearnes, Herons, or duck-people; Chumo-mescroes
or Bosvils; a Kaulo Camlo (a Black Lovel) or two, and a Beshaley or
Stanley. It is no easy thing to find a Stanley nowadays, even in the
Baulo Tem, or Hampshire, which is the proper home of the Stanleys,
for the Bugnior, pimples or small-pox, has of late years made sad
havoc amongst the Stanleys; but yonder tall old gentlewoman,
descending the steps of a caravan, with a flaming red cloak and a
large black beaver bonnet, and holding a travelling basket in her
hand, is a Tatchey Beshaley, a "genuine" Stanley. The generality,
however, of "them Gyptians" are Ratzie-mescroes, Hearnes, or duck-
people; and, speaking of the Hearnes, it is but right to say that he
who may be called the Gypsy Father of London, old Thomas Ratzie-
mescro, or Hearne, though not exactly residing here, lives close by
in a caravan, in a little bit of a yard over the way, where he can
breathe more freely, and be less annoyed by the brats and the young
fellows than he would be in yonder crowded place.

Though the spot which it has just been attempted to describe, may be
considered as the head-quarters of the London Gypsies, on the
Middlesex side of the Thames, the whole neighbourhood, for a mile to
the north of it, may to a certain extent be considered a Gypsy
region--that is, a district where Gypsies, or gentry whose habits
very much resemble those of Gypsies, may at any time be found. No
metropolitan district, indeed, could be well more suited for Gypsies
to take up their abode in. It is a neighbourhood of transition; of
brickfields, open spaces, poor streets inhabited by low artisans,
isolated houses, sites of intended tenements, or sites of tenements
which have been pulled down; it is in fact a mere chaos, where there
is no order and no regularity; where there is nothing durable, or
intended to be durable; though there can be little doubt that within
a few years order and beauty itself will be found here, that the
misery, squalidness, and meanness will have disappeared, and the
whole district, up to the railroad arches which bound it on the west
and north, will be covered with palaces, like those of Tyburnia, or
delightful villas, like those which decorate what is called Saint
John's Wood. At present, however, it is quite the kind of place to
please the Gypsies and wandering people, who find many places within
its bounds where they can squat and settle, or take up their quarters
for a night or two without much risk of being interfered with. Here
their tents, cars, and caravans may be seen amidst ruins, half-raised
walls, and on patches of unenclosed ground; here their children may,
throughout the day, be seen playing about, flinging up dust and dirt,
some partly naked, and others entirely so; and here, at night, the
different families, men, women, and children, may be seen seated
around their fires and their kettles, taking their evening meal, and
every now and then indulging in shouts of merriment, as much as to
say, -

What care we, though we be so small?
The tent shall stand when the palace shall fall;

which is quite true. The Gypsy tent must make way for the palace,
but after a millennium or two, the Gypsy tent is pitched on the ruins
of the palace.

Of the open spaces above mentioned, the most considerable is one
called Latimer's Green. It lies on the north-western side of the
district, and is not far from that place of old renown called the
Shepherd's Bush, where in the good ancient times highwaymen used to
lurk for the purpose of pouncing upon the travellers of the Oxford
Road. It may contain about five or six acres, and, though nominally
under the control of trustees, is in reality little more than a "no
man's ground," where anybody may feed a horse, light a fire, and boil
a kettle. It is a great resort of vagrant people, less of Gypsies
than those who call themselves travellers, and are denominated by the
Gypsies Chorodies, and who live for the most part in miserable
caravans, though there is generally a Gypsy tent or two to be seen
there, belonging to some Deighton or Shaw, or perhaps Petulengro,
from the Lil-engro Tan, as the Romany call Cambridgeshire. Amidst
these Chorody caravans and Gypsy tents may frequently be seen the
ker-vardo, the house on wheels, of one who, whenever he takes up his
quarters here, is considered the cock of the walk, the king of the
place. He is a little under forty years of age, and somewhat under
five feet ten inches in height. His face is wonderfully like that of
a mastiff of the largest size, particularly in its jowls; his neck is
short and very thick, and must be nearly as strong as that of a bull;
his chest is so broad that one does not like to say how broad it is;
and the voice which every now and then proceeds from it has much the
sound of that of the mighty dog just mentioned; his arms are long and
exceedingly muscular, and his fists huge and bony. He wears a low-
crowned, broad-brimmed hat, a coarse blue coat with short skirts,
leggings, and high-lows. Such is the kral o' the tan, the rex loci,
the cock of the green. But what is he besides? Is he Gypsy,
Chorody, or Hindity mush? I say, you had better not call him by any
one of those names, for if you did he would perhaps hit you, and
then, oh dear! That is Mr. G. A., a travelling horse-dealer, who
lives in a caravan, and finds it frequently convenient to take up his
abode for weeks together on Latimer's Green. He is a thorough-bred
Englishman, though he is married to a daughter of one of the old,
sacred Gypsy families, a certain Lurina Ratziemescri, duck or heron
female, who is a very handsome woman, and who has two brothers, dark,
stealthy-looking young fellows, who serve with almost slavish
obedience their sister's lord and husband, listening uncomplainingly
to his abuse of Gypsies, whom, though he lives amongst them and is
married to one by whom he has several children, he holds in supreme
contempt, never speaking of them but as a lying, thievish, cowardly
set, any three of whom he could beat with one hand; as perhaps he
could, for he is a desperate pugilist, and has three times fought in
"the ring" with good men, whom, though not a scientific fighter, he
beat with ease by dint of terrible blows, causing them to roar out.
He is very well to do in the world; his caravan, a rather stately
affair, is splendidly furnished within; and it is a pleasure to see
his wife, at Hampton Court races, dressed in Gypsy fashion, decked
with real gems and jewels and rich gold chains, and waited upon by
her dark brothers dressed like dandy pages. How is all this expense
supported? Why, by horsedealing. Mr. G. is, then, up to all kinds
of horsedealers' tricks, no doubt. Aye, aye, he is up to them, but
he doesn't practise them. He says it's of no use, and that honesty
is the best policy, and he'll stick to it; and so he does, and finds
the profit of it. His traffic in horses, though confined entirely to
small people, such as market-gardeners, travellers, show-folks, and
the like, is very great; every small person who wishes to buy a
horse, or to sell a horse, or to swop a horse, goes to Mr. G., and
has never reason to complain, for all acknowledge that he has done
the fair thing by them; though all agree that there is no
overreaching him, which indeed very few people try to do, deterred by
the dread of his manual prowess, of which a Gypsy once gave to the
writer the following striking illustration: --"He will jal oprey to a
gry that's wafodu, prawla, and coure leste tuley with the courepen of
his wast." (He will go up to a vicious horse, brother, and knock him
down with a blow of his fist.)

The arches of the railroad which bounds this region on the west and
north serve as a resort for Gypsies, who erect within them their
tents, which are thus sheltered in summer from the scorching rays of
the sun, and in winter from the drenching rain. In what close
proximity we sometimes find emblems of what is most rude and simple,
and what is most artificial and ingenious! For example, below the
arch is the Gypsy donkey-cart, whilst above it is thundering the
chariot of fire which can run across a county in half an hour. The
principal frequenters of these arches are Bosvils and Lees; the
former are chiefly tinkers, and the latter esconyemengres, or skewer-
makers. The reason for this difference is that the Bosvils are
chiefly immigrants from the country, where there is not much demand
for skewers, whereas the Lees are natives of the metropolis or the
neighbourhood, where the demand for skewers has from time immemorial
been enormously great. It was in the shelter of one of these arches
that the celebrated Ryley Bosvil, the Gypsy king of Yorkshire,
breathed his last a few years ago.


Before quitting the subject of Metropolitan Gypsies there is another
place to which it will be necessary to devote a few words, though it
is less entitled to the appelation of Gypsyry than rookery. It is
situated in the East of London, a region far more interesting to the
ethnologist and the philologist than the West, for there he will find
people of all kinds of strange races,--the wildest Irish; Greeks,
both Orthodox and Papistical; Jews, not only Ashkenazim and
Sephardim, but even Karaite; the worst, and consequently the most
interesting, description of Germans, the sugar-bakers; lots of
Malays; plenty of Chinamen; two or three dozen Hottentots, and about
the same number of Gypsies, reckoning men, women, and children. Of
the latter, and their place of abode, we have now only to do, leaving
the other strange, odd people to be disposed of on some other

Not far from Shoreditch Church, and at a short distance from the
street called Church Street, on the left hand, is a locality called
Friars' Mount, but generally for shortness called The Mount. It
derives its name from a friary built upon a small hillock in the time
of Popery, where a set of fellows lived in laziness and luxury on the
offerings of foolish and superstitious people, who resorted thither
to kiss and worship an ugly wooden image of the Virgin, said to be a
first-rate stick at performing miraculous cures. The neighbourhood,
of course, soon became a resort for vagabonds of every description,
for wherever friars are found rogues and thieves are sure to abound;
and about Friars' Mount, highwaymen, coiners, and Gypsies dwelt in
safety under the protection of the ministers of the miraculous image.
The friary has long since disappeared, the Mount has been levelled,
and the locality built over. The vice and villainy, however, which
the friary called forth still cling to the district. It is one of
the vilest dens of London, a grand resort for housebreakers,
garotters, passers of bad money, and other disreputable people,
though not for Gypsies; for however favourite a place it may have
been for the Romany in the old time, it no longer finds much favour
in their sight, from its not affording open spaces where they can
pitch their tents. One very small street, however, is certainly
entitled to the name of a Gypsy street, in which a few Gypsy families
have always found it convenient to reside, and who are in the habit
of receiving and lodging their brethren passing through London to and
from Essex and other counties east of the metropolis. There is
something peculiar in the aspect of this street, not observable in
that of any of the others, which one who visits it, should he have
been in Triana of Seville, would at once recognise as having seen in
the aspect of the lanes and courts of that grand location of the
Gypsies of the Andalusian capital.

The Gypsies of the Mount live much in the same manner as their
brethren in the other Gypsyries of London. They chin the cost, make
skewers, baskets, and let out donkeys for hire. The chief difference
consists in their living in squalid houses, whilst the others inhabit
dirty tents and caravans. The last Gypsy of any note who resided in
this quarter was Joseph Lee; here he lived for a great many years,
and here he died, having attained the age of ninety. During his
latter years he was generally called Old Joe Lee, from his great age.
His wife or partner, who was also exceedingly old, only survived him
a few days. They were buried in the same grave, with much Gypsy
pomp, in the neighbouring churchyard. They were both of pure Gypsy
blood, and were generally known as the Gypsy king and queen of
Shoreditch. They left a numerous family of children and
grandchildren, some of whom are still to be found at the Mount. This
old Joe Lee in his day was a celebrated horse and donkey witch--that
is, he professed secrets which enabled him to make any wretched
animal of either species exhibit for a little time the spirit and
speed of "a flying drummedary." He was illustriously related, and
was very proud on that account, especially in being the brother's son
of old James, the cauring mush, whose exploits in the filching line
will be remembered as long as the venerable tribe of Purrum, or Lee,
continues in existence.


Ryley Bosvil was a native of Yorkshire, a country where, as the
Gypsies say, "there's a deadly sight of Bosvils." He was above the
middle height, exceedingly strong and active, and one of the best
riders in Yorkshire, which is saying a great deal. He was a thorough
Gypsy, versed in all the arts of the old race, had two wives, never
went to church, and considered that when a man died he was cast into
the earth, and there was an end of him. He frequently used to say
that if any of his people became Gorgios he would kill them. He had
a sister of the name of Clara, a nice, delicate, interesting girl,
about fourteen years younger than himself, who travelled about with
an aunt; this girl was noticed by a respectable Christian family,
who, taking a great interest in her, persuaded her to come and live
with them. She was instructed by them in the rudiments of the
Christian religion, appeared delighted with her new friends, and
promised never to leave them. After the lapse of about six weeks
there was a knock at the door; a dark man stood before it who said he
wanted Clara. Clara went out trembling, had some discourse with the
man in an unknown tongue, and shortly returned in tears, and said
that she must go. "What for?" said her friends. "Did you not
promise to stay with us?" "I did so," said the girl, weeping more
bitterly; "but that man is my brother, who says I must go with him,
and what he says must be." So with her brother she departed, and her
Christian friends never saw her again. What became of her? Was she
made away with? Many thought she was, but she was not. Ryley put
her into a light cart, drawn by "a flying pony," and hurried her
across England, even to distant Norfolk, where he left her, after
threatening her, with three Gypsy women who were devoted to him.
With these women the writer found her one night encamped in a dark
wood, and had much discourse with her, both on Christian and Egyptian
matters. She was very melancholy, bitterly regretted having been
compelled to quit her Christian friends, and said that she wished she
had never been a Gypsy. The writer, after exhorting her to keep a
firm grip of her Christianity, departed, and did not see her again
for nearly a quarter of a century, when he met her on Epsom Downs, on
the Derby day when the terrible horse Gladiateur beat all the English
steeds. She was then very much changed, very much changed indeed,
appearing as a full-blown Egyptian matron, with two very handsome
daughters flaringly dressed in genuine Gypsy fashion, to whom she was
giving motherly counsels as to the best means to hok and dukker the
gentlefolks. All her Christianity she appeared to have flung to the
dogs, for when the writer spoke to her on that very important
subject, she made no answer save by an indescribable Gypsy look. On
other matters she was communicative enough, telling the writer,
amongst other things, that since he saw her she had been twice
married, and both times very well, for that her first husband, by
whom she had the two daughters whom the writer "kept staring at," was
a man every inch of him, and her second, who was then on the Downs
grinding knives with a machine he had, though he had not much
manhood, being nearly eighty years old, had something much better,
namely a mint of money, which she hoped shortly to have in her own

Ryley, like most of the Bosvils, was a tinker by profession; but,
though a tinker, he was amazingly proud and haughty of heart. His
grand ambition was to be a great man among his people, a Gypsy King.
To this end he furnished himself with clothes made after the
costliest Gypsy fashion: the two hinder buttons of the coat, which
was of thick blue cloth, were broad gold pieces of Spain, generally
called ounces; the fore-buttons were English "spaded guineas"; the
buttons of the waistcoat were half-guineas, and those of the collar
and the wrists of his shirt were seven-shilling gold pieces. In this
coat he would frequently make his appearance on a magnificent horse,
whose hoofs, like those of the steed of a Turkish sultan, were cased
in shoes of silver. How did he support such expense? it may be
asked. Partly by driving a trade in wafodu luvvu, counterfeit coin,
with which he was supplied by certain honest tradespeople of
Brummagem; partly and principally by large sums of money which he
received from his two wives, and which they obtained by the practice
of certain arts peculiar to Gypsy females. One of his wives was a
truly remarkable woman: she was of the Petulengro or Smith tribe;
her Christian name, if Christian name it can be called, was Xuri or
Shuri, and from her exceeding smartness and cleverness she was
generally called by the Gypsies Yocky Shuri,--that is, smart or
clever Shuri, yocky being a Gypsy word, signifying 'clever.' She
could dukker--that is, tell fortunes--to perfection, by which alone
during the racing season she could make a hundred pounds a month.
She was good at the big hok, that is, at inducing people to put money
into her hands, in the hope of its being multiplied; and, oh dear!
how she could caur--that is, filch gold rings and trinkets from
jewellers' cases; the kind of thing which the Spanish Gypsy women
call ustilar pastesas, filching with the hands. Frequently she would
disappear, and travel about England, and Scotland too, dukkering,
hokking, and cauring, and after the lapse of a month return and
deliver to her husband, like a true and faithful wife, the proceeds
of her industry. So no wonder that the Flying Tinker, as he was
called, was enabled to cut a grand appearance. He was very fond of
hunting, and would frequently join the field in regular hunting
costume, save and except that, instead of the leather hunting-cap, he
wore one of fur with a gold band around it, to denote that though he
mixed with Gorgios he was still a Romany-chal. Thus equipped and
mounted on a capital hunter, whenever he encountered a Gypsy
encampment he would invariably dash through it, doing all the harm he
could, in order, as he said, to let the juggals know that he was
their king and had a right to do what he pleased with his own.
Things went on swimmingly for a great many years, but, as prosperity
does not continue for ever, his dark hour came at last. His wives
got into trouble in one or two expeditions, and his dealings in
wafodu luvvu began to be noised about. Moreover, by his grand airs
and violent proceedings he had incurred the hatred of both Gorgios
and Gypsies, particularly of the latter, some of whom he had ridden
over and lamed for life. One day he addressed his two wives:-

"The Gorgios seek to hang me,
The Gypsies seek to kill me:
This country we must leave."


I'll jaw with you to heaven,
I'll jaw with you to Yaudors -
But not if Lura goes."


"I'll jaw with you to heaven,
And to the wicked country,
Though Shuri goeth too."


"Since I must choose betwixt ye,
My choice is Yocky Shuri,
Though Lura loves me best."


"My blackest curse on Shuri!
Oh, Ryley, I'll not curse you,
But you will never thrive."

She then took her departure with her cart and donkey, and Ryley
remained with Shuri.


"I've chosen now betwixt ye;
Your wish you now have gotten,
But for it you shall smart."

He then struck her with his fist on the cheek, and broke her jawbone.
Shuri uttered no cry or complaint, only mumbled:

"Although with broken jawbone,
I'll follow thee, my Ryley,
Since Lura doesn't jal."

Thereupon Ryley and Yocky Shuri left Yorkshire, and wended their way
to London, where they took up their abode in the Gypsyry near the
Shepherd's Bush. Shuri went about dukkering and hokking, but not
with the spirit of former times, for she was not quite so young as
she had been, and her jaw, which was never properly cured, pained her
much. Ryley went about tinkering, but he was unacquainted with
London and its neighbourhood, and did not get much to do. An old
Gypsy-man, who was driving about a little cart filled with skewers,
saw him standing in a state of perplexity at a place where four roads

Old Gypsy.

"Methinks I see a brother!
Who's your father? Who's your mother?
And what may be your name?"


"A Bosvil was my father;
A Bosvil was my mother;
And Ryley is my name."

Old Gypsy.

"I'm glad to see you, brother!
I am a Kaulo Camlo. {4}
What service can I do?"


"I'm jawing petulengring, {5}
But do not know the country;
Perhaps you'll show me round."

Old Gypsy.

"I'll sikker tute, prala!
I'm bikkening esconyor; {6}
Av, av along with me!"

The old Gypsy showed Ryley about the country for a week or two, and
Ryley formed a kind of connection, and did a little business. He,
however, displayed little or no energy, was gloomy and dissatisfied,
and frequently said that his heart was broken since he had left

Shuri did her best to cheer him, but without effect. Once, when she
bade him get up and exert himself, he said that if he did it would be
of little use, and asked her whether she did not remember the parting
prophecy of his other wife that he would never thrive. At the end of
about two years he ceased going his rounds, and did nothing but smoke
under the arches of the railroad, and loiter about beershops. At
length he became very weak, and took to his bed; doctors were called
in by his faithful Shuri, but there is no remedy for a bruised
spirit. A Methodist came and asked him, "What was his hope?" "My
hope," said he, "is that when I am dead I shall be put into the
ground, and my wife and children will weep over me." And such, it
may be observed, is the last hope of every genuine Gypsy. His hope
was gratified. Shuri and his children, of whom he had three--two
stout young fellows and a girl--gave him a magnificent funeral, and
screamed, shouted, and wept over his grave. They then returned to
the "Arches," not to divide his property amongst them, and to quarrel
about the division, according to Christian practice, but to destroy
it. They killed his swift pony--still swift, though twenty-seven
years of age--and buried it deep in the ground, without depriving it
of its skin. They then broke the caravan and cart to pieces, making
of the fragments a fire, on which they threw his bedding, carpets,
curtains, blankets, and everything which would burn. Finally, they
dashed his mirrors, china, and crockery to pieces, hacked his metal
pots, dishes and what-not to bits, and flung the whole on the blazing
pile. Such was the life, such the death, and such were the funeral
obsequies of Ryley Bosvil, a Gypsy who will be long remembered
amongst the English Romany for his buttons, his two wives, his grand
airs, and last, and not least, for having been the composer of
various stanzas in the Gypsy tongue, which have plenty of force, if
nothing else, to recommend them. One of these, addressed to Yocky
Shuri, runs as follows:

Tuley the Can I kokkeney cam
Like my rinkeny Yocky Shuri:
Oprey the chongor in ratti I'd cour
For my rinkeny Yocky Shuri!

Which may be thus rendered:

Beneath the bright sun, there is none, there is none,
I love like my Yocky Shuri:
With the greatest delight, in blood I would fight
To the knees for my Yocky Shuri!


There are two Yetholms--Town Yetholm and Kirk Yetholm. They stand at
the distance of about a quarter of a mile from each other, and
between them is a valley, down which runs a small stream, called the
Beaumont River, crossed by a little stone bridge. Of the town there
is not much to be said. It is a long, straggling place, on the road
between Morbuttle and Kelso, from which latter place it is distant
about seven miles. It is comparatively modern, and sprang up when
the Kirk town began to fall into decay. Kirk Yetholm derives the
first part of its name from the church, which serves for a place of
worship not only for the inhabitants of the place, but for those of
the town also. The present church is modern, having been built on
the site of the old kirk, which was pulled down in the early part of
the present century, and which had been witness of many a strange
event connected with the wars between England and Scotland. It
stands at the entrance of the place, on the left hand as you turn to
the village after ascending the steep road which leads from the
bridge. The place occupies the lower portion of a hill, a spur of
the Cheviot range, behind which is another hill, much higher, rising
to an altitude of at least 900 feet. At one time it was surrounded
by a stone wall, and at the farther end is a gateway overlooking a
road leading to the English border, from which Kirk Yetholm is
distant only a mile and a quarter; the boundary of the two kingdoms
being here a small brook called Shorton Burn, on the English side of
which is a village of harmless, simple Northumbrians, differing
strangely in appearance, manner, and language from the people who
live within a stone's throw of them on the other side.

Kirk Yetholm is a small place, but with a remarkable look. It
consists of a street, terminating in what is called a green, with
houses on three sides, but open on the fourth, or right side to the
mountain, towards which quarter it is grassy and steep. Most of the
houses are ancient, and are built of rude stone. By far the most
remarkable-looking house is a large and dilapidated building, which
has much the appearance of a ruinous Spanish posada or venta. There
is not much life in the place, and you may stand ten minutes where
the street opens upon the square without seeing any other human
beings than two or three women seated at the house doors, or a
ragged, bare-headed boy or two lying on the grass on the upper side
of the Green. It came to pass that late one Saturday afternoon, at
the commencement of August, in the year 1866, I was standing where
the street opens on this Green, or imperfect square. My eyes were
fixed on the dilapidated house, the appearance of which awakened in
my mind all kinds of odd ideas. "A strange-looking place," said I to
myself at last, "and I shouldn't wonder if strange things have been
done in it."

"Come to see the Gypsy toon, sir?" said a voice not far from me.

I turned, and saw standing within two yards of me a woman about forty
years of age, of decent appearance, though without either cap or

"A Gypsy town, is it?" said I; "why, I thought it had been Kirk

Woman.--"Weel, sir, if it is Kirk Yetholm, must it not be a Gypsy
toon? Has not Kirk Yetholm ever been a Gypsy toon?"

Myself.--"My good woman, 'ever' is a long term, and Kirk Yetholm must
have been Kirk Yetholm long before there were Gypsies in Scotland, or
England either."

Woman.--"Weel, sir, your honour may be right, and I dare say is; for
your honour seems to be a learned gentleman. Certain, however, it is
that Kirk Yetholm has been a Gypsy toon beyond the memory of man."

Myself.--"You do not seem to be a Gypsy."

Woman.--"Seem to be a Gypsy! Na, na, sir! I am the bairn of decent
parents, and belong not to Kirk Yetholm, but to Haddington."

Myself.--"And what brought you to Kirk Yetholm?"

Woman.--"Oh, my ain little bit of business brought me to Kirk
Yetholm, sir."

Myself.--"Which is no business of mine. That's a queer-looking house

Woman.--"The house that your honour was looking at so attentively
when I first spoke to ye? A queer-looking house it is, and a queer
kind of man once lived in it. Does your honour know who once lived
in that house?"

Myself.--"No. How should I? I am here for the first time, and after
taking a bite and sup at the inn at the town over yonder I strolled

Woman.--"Does your honour come from far?"

Myself.--"A good way. I came from Strandraar, the farthest part of
Galloway, where I landed from a ship which brought me from Ireland."

Woman.--"And what may have brought your honour into these parts?"

Myself.--"Oh, my ain wee bit of business brought me into these

"Which wee bit of business is nae business of mine," said the woman,
smiling. "Weel, your honour is quite right to keep your ain counsel;
for, as your honour weel kens, if a person canna keep his ain counsel
it is nae likely that any other body will keep it for him. But to
gae back to the queer house, and the queer man that once 'habited it.
That man, your honour, was old Will Faa."

Myself.--"Old Will Faa!"

Woman.--"Yes. Old Will Faa, the Gypsy king, smuggler, and innkeeper;
he lived in that inn."

Myself.--"Oh, then that house has been an inn?"

Woman.--"It still is an inn, and has always been an inn; and though
it has such an eerie look it is sometimes lively enough, more
especially after the Gypsies have returned from their summer
excursions in the country. It's a roaring place then. They spend
most of their sleight-o'-hand gains in that house."

Myself.--"Is the house still kept by a Faa?"

Woman.--"No, sir; there are no Faas to keep it. The name is clean
dead in the land, though there is still some of the blood remaining."

Myself.--"I really should like to see some of the blood."

Woman.--"Weel, sir, you can do that without much difficulty; there
are not many Gypsies just now in Kirk Yetholm; but the one who they
say has more of his blood than any one else happens to be here. I
mean his grandbairn--his daughter's daughter; she whom they ca' the
'Gypsy Queen o' Yetholm,' and whom they lead about the toon once a
year, mounted on a cuddy, with a tin crown on her head, with much
shouting, and with mony a barbaric ceremony."

Myself.--"I really should like to see her."

Woman.--"Weel, sir, there's a woman behind you, seated at the
doorway, who can get your honour not only the sight of her, but the
speech of her, for she is one of the race, and a relation of hers;
and, to tell ye the truth, she has had her eye upon your honour for
some time past, expecting to be asked about the qeeen, for scarcely
anybody comes to Yetholm but goes to see the queen; and some gae so
far as to say that they merely crowned her queen in hopes of bringing
grist to the Gypsy mill."

I thanked the woman, and was about to turn away, in order to address
myself to the other woman seated on the step, when my obliging friend
said, "I beg your pardon, sir, but before ye go I wish to caution
you, when you get to the speech of the queen, not to put any
speerings to her about a certain tongue or dialect which they say the
Gypsies have. All the Gypsies become glum and dour as soon as they
are spoken to about their language, and particularly the queen. The
queen might say something uncivil to your honour, should you ask her
questions about her language."

Myself.--"Oh, then the Gypsies of Yetholm have a language of their

Woman.--"I canna say, sir; I dinna ken whether they have or not; I
have been at Yetholm several years, about my ain wee bit o' business,
and never heard them utter a word that was not either English or
broad Scotch. Some people say that they have a language of their
ain, and others say that they have nane, and moreover that, though
they call themselves Gypsies, they are far less Gypsy than Irish, a
great deal of Irish being mixed in their veins with a very little of
the much more respectable Gypsy blood. It may be sae, or it may be
not; perhaps your honour will find out. That's the woman, sir, just
behind ye at the door. Gud e'en. I maun noo gang and boil my cup

To the woman at the door I now betook myself. She was seated on the
threshold, and employed in knitting. She was dressed in white, and
had a cap on her head, from which depended a couple of ribbons, one
on each side. As I drew near she looked up. She had a full, round,
smooth face, and her complexion was brown, or rather olive, a hue
which contrasted with that of her eyes, which were blue.

"There is something Gypsy in that face," said I to myself, as I
looked at her; "but I don't like those eyes."

"A fine evening," said I to her at last.

"Yes, sir," said the woman, with very little of the Scotch accent;
"it is a fine evening. Come to see the town?"

"Yes," said I; "I am come to see the town. A nice little town it

"And I suppose come to see the Gypsies, too," said the woman, with a
half smile.

"Well," said I, "to be frank with you, I came to see the Gypsies.
You are not one, I suppose?"

"Indeed I am," said the woman, rather sharply, "and who shall say
that I am not, seeing that I am a relation of old Will Faa, the man
whom the woman from Haddington was speaking to you about; for I heard
her mention his name?"

"Then," said I, "you must be related to her whom they call the Gypsy

"I am, indeed, sir. Would you wish to see her?"

"By all means," said I. "I should wish very much to see the Gypsy

"Then I will show you to her, sir; many gentlefolks from England come
to see the Gypsy queen of Yetholm. Follow me, sir!"

She got up, and, without laying down her knitting-work, went round
the corner, and began to ascend the hill. She was strongly made, and
was rather above the middle height. She conducted me to a small
house, some little way up the hill. As we were going, I said to her,
"As you are a Gypsy, I suppose you have no objection to a coro of
koshto levinor?" {7}

She stopped her knitting for a moment, and appeared to consider, and
then resuming it, she said hesitatingly, "No, sir, no! None at all!
That is, not exactly!"

"She is no true Gypsy, after all," said I to myself.

We went through a little garden to the door of the house, which stood
ajar. She pushed it open, and looked in; then, turning round, she
said: "She is not here, sir; but she is close at hand. Wait here
till I go and fetch her." She went to a house a little farther up
the hill, and I presently saw her returning with another female, of
slighter build, lower in stature, and apparently much older. She
came towards me with much smiling, smirking, and nodding, which I
returned with as much smiling and nodding as if I had known her for
threescore years. She motioned me with her hand to enter the house.
I did so. The other woman returned down the hill, and the queen of
the Gypsies entering, and shutting the door, confronted me on the
floor, and said, in a rather musical, but slightly faltering voice:

"Now, sir, in what can I oblige you?"

Thereupon, letting the umbrella fall, which I invariably carry about
with me in my journeyings, I flung my arms three times up into the
air, and in an exceedingly disagreeable voice, owing to a cold which
I had had for some time, and which I had caught amongst the lakes of
Loughmaben, whilst hunting after Gypsies whom I could not find, I

"Sossi your nav? Pukker mande tute's nav! Shan tu a mumpli-mushi,
or a tatchi Romany?"

Which, interpreted into Gorgio, runs thus:

"What is your name? Tell me your name! Are you a mumping woman, or
a true Gypsy?"

The woman appeared frightened, and for some time said nothing, but
only stared at me. At length, recovering herself, she exclaimed, in
an angry tone, "Why do you talk to me in that manner, and in that
gibberish? I don't understand a word of it."

"Gibberish!" said I; "it is no gibberish; it is Zingarrijib, Romany
rokrapen, real Gypsy of the old order."

"Whatever it is," said the woman, "it's of no use speaking it to me.
If you want to speak to me, you must speak English or Scotch."

"Why, they told me as how you were a Gypsy," said I.

"And they told you the truth," said the woman; "I am a Gypsy, and a
real one; I am not ashamed of my blood."

"If yer were a Gyptian," said I, "yer would be able to speak Gyptian;
but yer can't, not a word."

"At any rate," said the woman, "I can speak English, which is more
than you can. Why, your way of speaking is that of the lowest
vagrants of the roads."

"Oh, I have two or three ways of speaking English," said I; "and when
I speaks to low wagram folks, I speaks in a low wagram manner."

"Not very civil," said the woman.

"A pretty Gypsy!" said I; "why, I'll be bound you don't know what a
churi is!"

The woman gave me a sharp look; but made no reply.

"A pretty queen of the Gypsies!" said I; "why, she doesn't know the
meaning of churi!"

"Doesn't she?" said the woman, evidently nettled; "doesn't she?"

"Why, do you mean to say that you know the meaning of churi?"

"Why, of course I do," said the woman.

"Hardly, my good lady," said I; "hardly; a churi to you is merely a

"A churi is a knife," said the woman, in a tone of defiance; "a churi
is a knife."

"Oh, it is," said I; "and yet you tried to persuade me that you had
no peculiar language of your own, and only knew English and Scotch:
churi is a word of the language in which I spoke to you at first,
Zingarrijib, or Gypsy language; and since you know that word, I make
no doubt that you know others, and in fact can speak Gypsy. Come;
let us have a little confidential discourse together."

The woman stood for some time, as if in reflection, and at length
said: "Sir, before having any particular discourse with you, I wish
to put a few questions to you, in order to gather from your answers
whether it is safe to talk to you on Gypsy matters. You pretend to
understand the Gypsy language: if I find you do not, I will hold no
further discourse with you; and the sooner you take yourself off the
better. If I find you do, I will talk with you as long as you like.
What do you call that?"--and she pointed to the fire.

"Speaking Gyptianly?" said I.

The woman nodded.

"Whoy, I calls that yog."

"Hm," said the woman: "and the dog out there?"

"Gyptian-loike?" said I.


"Whoy, I calls that a juggal."

"And the hat on your head?"

"Well, I have two words for that: a staury and a stadge."

"Stadge," said the woman, "we call it here. Now what's a gun?"

"There is no Gypsy in England," said I, "can tell you the word for a
gun; at least the proper word, which is lost. They have a word--yag-
engro--but that is a made-up word signifying a fire-thing."

"Then you don't know the word for a gun," said the Gypsy.

"Oh dear me! Yes," said I; "the genuine Gypsy word for a gun is
puschca. But I did not pick up that word in England, but in Hungary,
where the Gypsies retain their language better than in England:
puschca is the proper word for a gun, and not yag-engro, which may
mean a fire-shovel, tongs, poker, or anything connected with fire,
quite as well as a gun."

"Puschca is the word, sure enough," said the Gypsy. "I thought I
should have caught you there; and now I have but one more question to
ask you, and when I have done so, you may as well go; for I am quite
sure you cannot answer it. What is Nokkum?"

"Nokkum," said I; "nokkum?"

"Aye," said the Gypsy; "what is Nokkum? Our people here, besides
their common name of Romany, have a private name for themselves,
which is Nokkum or Nokkums. Why do the children of the Caungri Foros
call themselves Nokkums?"

"Nokkum," said I; "nokkum? The root of nokkum must be nok, which
signifieth a nose."

"A-h!" said the Gypsy, slowly drawing out the monosyllable, as if in

"Yes," said I; "the root of nokkum is assuredly nok, and I have no
doubt that your people call themselves Nokkum because they are in the
habit of nosing the Gorgios. Nokkums means Nosems."

"Sit down, sir," said the Gypsy, handing me a chair. "I am now ready
to talk to you as much as you please about Nokkum words and matters,
for I see there is no danger. But I tell you frankly that had I not
found that you knew as much as, or a great deal more than, myself,
not a hundred pounds, nor indeed all the money in Berwick, should
have induced me to hold discourse with you about the words and
matters of the Brown children of Kirk Yetholm."

I sat down in the chair which she handed me; she sat down in another,
and we were presently in deep discourse about matters Nokkum. We
first began to talk about words, and I soon found that her knowledge
of Romany was anything but extensive; far less so, indeed, than that
of the commonest English Gypsy woman, for whenever I addressed her in
regular Gypsy sentences, and not in poggado jib, or broken language,
she would giggle and say I was too deep for her. I should say that
the sum total of her vocabulary barely amounted to three hundred
words. Even of these there were several which were not pure Gypsy
words--that is, belonging to the speech which the ancient Zingary
brought with them to Britain. Some of her bastard Gypsy words
belonged to the cant or allegorical jargon of thieves, who, in order
to disguise their real meaning, call one thing by the name of
another. For example, she called a shilling a 'hog,' a word
belonging to the old English cant dialect, instead of calling it by
the genuine Gypsy term tringurushi, the literal meaning of which is
three groats. Then she called a donkey 'asal,' and a stone 'cloch,'
which words are neither cant nor Gypsy, but Irish or Gaelic. I
incurred her vehement indignation by saying they were Gaelic. She
contradicted me flatly, and said that whatever else I might know I
was quite wrong there; for that neither she nor any one of her people
would condescend to speak anything so low as Gaelic, or indeed, if
they possibly could avoid it, to have anything to do with the
poverty-stricken creatures who used it. It is a singular fact that,
though principally owing to the magic writings of Walter Scott, the
Highland Gael and Gaelic have obtained the highest reputation in
every other part of the world, they are held in the Lowlands in very
considerable contempt. There the Highlander, elsewhere "the bold
Gael with sword and buckler," is the type of poverty and
wretchedness; and his language, elsewhere "the fine old Gaelic, the
speech of Adam and Eve in Paradise," is the designation of every
unintelligible jargon. But not to digress. On my expressing to the
Gypsy queen my regret that she was unable to hold with me a regular
conversation in Romany, she said that no one regretted it more than
herself, but that there was no help for it; and that slight as I
might consider her knowledge of Romany to be, it was far greater than
that of any other Gypsy on the Border, or indeed in the whole of
Scotland; and that as for the Nokkums, there was not one on the Green
who was acquainted with half a dozen words of Romany, though the few
words they had they prized high enough, and would rather part with
their heart's blood than communicate them to a stranger.

"Unless," said I, "they found the stranger knew more than

"That would make no difference with them," said the queen, "though it
has made a great deal of difference with me. They would merely turn
up their noses, and say they had no Gaelic. You would not find them
so communicative as me; the Nokkums, in general, are a dour set,

Before quitting the subject of language it is but right to say that
though she did not know much Gypsy, and used cant and Gaelic terms,
she possessed several words unknown to the English Romany, but which
are of the true Gypsy order. Amongst them was the word tirrehi, or
tirrehai, signifying shoes or boots, which I had heard in Spain and
in the east of Europe. Another was calches, a Wallachian word
signifying trousers. Moreover, she gave the right pronunciation to
the word which denotes a man not of Gypsy blood, saying gajo, and not
gorgio, as the English Gypsies do. After all, her knowledge of
Gentle Romany was not altogether to be sneezed at.

Ceasing to talk to her about words, I began to question her about the
Faas. She said that a great number of the Faas had come in the old
time to Yetholm, and settled down there, and that her own forefathers
had always been the principal people among them. I asked her if she
remembered her grandfather, old Will Faa, and received for answer
that she remembered him very well, and that I put her very much in
mind of him, being a tall, lusty man, like himself, and having a
skellying look with the left eye, just like him. I asked her if she
had not seen queer folks at Yetholm in her grandfather's time.
"Dosta dosta," said she; "plenty, plenty of queer folk I saw at
Yetholm in my grandfather's time, and plenty I have seen since, and
not the least queer is he who is now asking me questions." "Did you
ever see Piper Allen?" said I; "he was a great friend of your
grandfather's." "I never saw him," she replied; "but I have often
heard of him. He married one of our people." "He did so," said I,
"and the marriage-feast was held on the Green just behind us. He got
a good, clever wife, and she got a bad, rascally husband. One night,
after taking an affectionate farewell of her, he left her on an
expedition, with plenty of money in his pocket, which he had obtained
from her, and which she had procured by her dexterity. After going
about four miles he bethought himself that she had still some money,
and returning crept up to the room in which she lay asleep, and stole
her pocket, in which were eight guineas; then slunk away, and never
returned, leaving her in poverty, from which she never recovered." I
then mentioned Madge Gordon, at one time the Gypsy queen of the
Border, who used, magnificently dressed, to ride about on a pony shod
with silver, inquiring if she had ever seen her. She said she had
frequently seen Madge Faa, for that was her name, and not Gordon; but
that when she knew her, all her magnificence, beauty, and royalty had
left her; for she was then a poor, poverty-stricken old woman, just
able with a pipkin in her hand to totter to the well on the Green for
water. Then with much nodding, winking, and skellying, I began to
talk about Drabbing bawlor, dooking gryes, cauring, and hokking, and
asked if them 'ere things were ever done by the Nokkums: and
received for answer that she believed such things were occasionally
done, not by the Nokkums, but by other Gypsies, with whom her people
had no connection.

Observing her eyeing me rather suspiciously, I changed the subject;
asking her if she had travelled much about. She told me she had, and
that she had visited most parts of Scotland, and seen a good bit of
the northern part of England.

"Did you travel alone?" said I.

"No," said she; "when I travelled in Scotland I was with some of my
own people, and in England with the Lees and Bosvils."

"Old acquaintances of mine," said I; "why only the other day I was
with them at Fairlop Fair, in the Wesh."

"I frequently heard them talk of Epping Forest," said the Gypsy; "a
nice place, is it not?"

"The loveliest forest in the world!" said I. "Not equal to what it
was, but still the loveliest forest in the world, and the
pleasantest, especially in summer; for then it is thronged with grand
company, and the nightingales, and cuckoos, and Romany chals and
chies. As for Romany-chals there is not such a place for them in the
whole world as the Forest. Them that wants to see Romany-chals
should go to the Forest, especially to the Bald-faced Hind on the
hill above Fairlop, on the day of Fairlop Fair. It is their
trysting-place, as you would say, and there they musters from all
parts of England, and there they whoops, dances, and plays; keeping
some order nevertheless, because the Rye of all the Romans is in the
house, seated behind the door:-

Romany Chalor
Anglo the wuddur
Mistos are boshing;
Mande beshello
Innar the wuddur
Shooning the boshipen."

Roman lads
Before the door
Bravely fiddle;
Here I sit
Within the door
And hear them fiddle.

"I wish I knew as much Romany as you, sir," said the Gypsy. "Why, I
never heard so much Romany before in all my life."

She was rather a small woman, apparently between sixty and seventy,
with intelligent and rather delicate features. Her complexion was
darker than that of the other female; but she had the same kind of
blue eyes. The room in which we were seated was rather long, and
tolerably high. In the wall, on the side which fronted the windows
which looked out upon the Green, were oblong holes for beds, like
those seen in the sides of a cabin. There was nothing of squalor or
poverty about the place.

Wishing to know her age, I inquired of her what it was. She looked
angry, and said she did not know.

"Are you forty-nine?" said I, with a terrible voice, and a yet more
terrible look.

"More," said she, with a smile; "I am sixty-eight."

There was something of the gentlewoman in her: on my offering her
money she refused to take it, saying that she did not want it, and it
was with the utmost difficulty that I persuaded her to accept a
trifle, with which, she said, she would buy herself some tea.

But withal there was hukni in her, and by that she proved her Gypsy
blood. I asked her if she would be at home on the following day, for
in that case I would call and have some more talk with her, and
received for answer that she would be at home and delighted to see
me. On going, however, on the following day, which was Sunday, I
found the garden-gate locked and the window-shutters up, plainly
denoting that there was nobody at home.

Seeing some men lying on the hill, a little way above, who appeared
to be observing me, I went up to them for the purpose of making
inquiries. They were all young men, and decently though coarsely
dressed. None wore the Scottish cap or bonnet, but all the hat of
England. Their countenances were rather dark, but had nothing of the
vivacious expression observable in the Gypsy face, but much of the
dogged, sullen look which makes the countenances of the generality of
the Irish who inhabit London and some other of the large English
towns so disagreeable. They were lying on their bellies,
occasionally kicking their heels into the air. I greeted them
civilly, but received no salutation in return.

"Is So-and-so at home?" said I.

"No," said one, who, though seemingly the eldest of the party, could
not have been more than three-and-twenty years of age; "she is gone

"Is she gone far?" said I.

"No," said the speaker, kicking up his heels.

"Where is she gone to?"

"She's gone to Cauldstrame."

"How far is that?"

"Just thirteen miles."

"Will she be at home to-day?"

"She may, or she may not."

"Are you of her people?" said I.

"No-h," said the fellow, slowly drawing out the word.

"Can you speak Irish?"

"No-h; I can't speak Irish," said the fellow, tossing up his nose,
and then flinging up his heels.

"You know what arragod is?" said I.


"But you know what ruppy is?" said I; and thereupon I winked and nodded.

"No-h;" and then up went the nose, and subsequently the heels.

"Good day," said I; and turned away; I received no counter-
salutation; but, as I went down the hill, there was none of the
shouting and laughter which generally follow a discomfited party.
They were a hard, sullen, cautious set, in whom a few drops of Gypsy
blood were mixed with some Scottish and a much larger quantity of low
Irish. Between them and their queen a striking difference was
observable. In her there was both fun and cordiality; in them not
the slightest appearance of either. What was the cause of this
disparity? The reason was they were neither the children nor the
grandchildren of real Gypsies, but only the remote descendants,
whereas she was the granddaughter of two genuine Gypsies, old Will
Faa and his wife, whose daughter was her mother; so that she might be
considered all but a thorough Gypsy; for being by her mother's side a
Gypsy, she was of course much more so than she would have been had
she sprung from a Gypsy father and a Gentile mother; the qualities of
a child, both mental and bodily, depending much less on the father
than on the mother. Had her father been a Faa, instead of her
mother, I should probably never have heard from her lips a single
word of Romany, but found her as sullen and inductile as the Nokkums
on the Green, whom it was of little more use questioning than so many

Nevertheless, she had played me the hukni, and that was not very
agreeable; so I determined to be even with her, and by some means or
other to see her again. Hearing that on the next day, which was
Monday, a great fair was to be held in the neighbourhood of Kelso, I
determined to go thither, knowing that the likeliest place in all the
world to find a Gypsy at is a fair; so I went to the grand cattle-
fair of St. George, held near the ruined castle of Roxburgh, in a
lovely meadow not far from the junction of the Teviot and Tweed; and
there sure enough, on my third saunter up and down, I met my Gypsy.
We met in the most cordial manner--smirks and giggling on her side,
smiles and nodding on mine. She was dressed respectably in black,
and was holding the arm of a stout wench, dressed in garments of the
same colour, who she said was her niece, and a rinkeni rakli. The
girl whom she called rinkeni or handsome, but whom I did not consider
handsome, had much of the appearance of one of those Irish girls,
born in London, whom one so frequently sees carrying milk-pails about
the streets of the metropolis. By the bye, how is it that the
children born in England of Irish parents account themselves Irish
and not English, whilst the children born in Ireland of English
parents call themselves not English but Irish? Is it because there
is ten times more nationality in Irish blood than in English? After
the smirks, smiles, and salutations were over, I inquired whether
there were many Gypsies in the fair. "Plenty," said she, "plenty
Tates, Andersons, Reeds, and many others. That woman is an Anderson-
-yonder is a Tate," said she, pointing to two common-looking females.
"Have they much Romany?" said I. "No," said she, "scarcely a word."
"I think I shall go and speak to them," said I. "Don't," said she;
"they would only be uncivil to you. Moreover, they have nothing of
that kind--on the word of a rawnie they have not."

I looked in her eyes; there was nothing of hukni in them, so I shook
her by the hand; and through rain and mist, for the day was a
wretched one, trudged away to Dryburgh to pay my respects at the tomb
of Walter Scott, a man with whose principles I have no sympathy, but
for whose genius I have always entertained the most intense admiration.


{1} A Christian.

{2} A fox.

{3} "Merripen" means life, and likewise death; even as "collico"
means to-morrow as well as yesterday, and perhaps "sorlo," evening as
well as morning.

{4} A Black Lovel.

{5} Going a-tinkering.

{6} I'll show you about, brother! I'm selling skewers.

{7} A cup of good ale.

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