The Gypsies
by Charles G. Leland
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"This will do," I said to the driver, who appeared utterly amazed at seeing me greeted like an old friend by the Zigani, but who grinned with delight, as all Russians of the lower class invariably do at anything like sociability and fraternity. The damsels were faultlessly attired in Russian style, with full fur-lined, glossy black-satin cloaks and fine Orenberg scarfs, which are, I believe, the finest woolen fabrics in the world. The party were particularly anxious to know if I had come specially to visit them, for I have passed over the fact that I had also made the acquaintance of another very large family of gypsies, who sang at a rival cafe, and who had also treated me very kindly. I was at once conducted to a house, which we entered in a rather gypsy way, not in front, but through a court, a back door, and up a staircase, very much in the style of certain dwellings in the Potteries in London. But, having entered, I was led through one or two neat rooms, where I saw lying sound asleep on beds, but dressed, one or two very dark Romanys, whose faces I remembered. Then we passed into a sitting-room, which was very well furnished. I observed hanging up over the chimney-piece a good collection of photographs, nearly all of gypsies, and indicating that close resemblance to Hindoos which comes out so strongly in such pictures, being, in fact, more apparent in the pictures than in the faces; just as the photographs of the old Ulfilas manuscript revealed alterations not visible in the original. In the centre of the group was a cabinet-size portrait of Sarsha, and by it another of an Englishman of very high rank. I thought this odd, but asked no questions.

My hosts were very kind, offering me promptly a rich kind of Russian cake, begging to know what else I would like to eat or drink, and apparently deeply concerned that I could really partake of nothing, as I had just come from luncheon. They were all light-hearted and gay, so that the music began at once, as wild and as bewitching as ever. And here I observed, even more than before, how thoroughly sincere these gypsies were in their art, and to what a degree they enjoyed and were excited by their own singing. Here in their own home, warbling like birds and frolicking like children, their performance was even more delightful than it had been in the concert-room. There was evidently a great source of excitement in the fact that I must enjoy it far more than an ordinary stranger, because I understood Romany, and sympathized with gypsy ways, and regarded them not as the Gaji or Gentiles do, but as brothers and sisters. I confess that I was indeed moved by the simple kindness with which I was treated, and I knew that, with the wonderfully keen perception of character in which gypsies excel, they perfectly understood my liking for them. It is this ready intuition of feelings which, when it is raised from an instinct to an art by practice, enables shrewd old women to tell fortunes with so much skill.

I was here introduced to the mother of the girls. She was a neat, pleasant-looking woman, of perhaps forty years, in appearance and manners irresistibly reminding me of some respectable Cuban lady. Like the others, she displayed an intelligent curiosity as to my knowledge of Romany, and I was pleased at finding that she knew much more of the language than her children did. Then there entered a young Russian gentleman, but not "Prince Paul." He was, however, a very agreeable person, as all Russians can be when so minded; and they are always so minded when they gather, from information or conjecture, the fact that the stranger whom they meet is one of education or position. This young gentleman spoke French, and undertook the part of occasional translator.

I asked Liubasha if any of them understood fortune-telling.

"No; we have quite lost the art of dorriki. {61} None of us know anything about it. But we hear that you Romanichals over the Black Water understand it. Oh, rya," she cried, eagerly, "you know so much,—you're such a deep Romany,—can't you tell fortunes?"

"I should indeed know very little about Romany ways," I replied, gravely, "if I could not pen dorriki. But I tell you beforehand, terni pen, 'dorrikipen hi hokanipen,' little sister, fortune-telling is deceiving. Yet what the lines say I can read."

In an instant six as pretty little gypsy hands as I ever beheld were thrust before me, and I heard as many cries of delight. "Tell my fortune, rya! tell mine! and mine!" exclaimed the damsels, and I complied. It was all very well to tell them there was nothing in it; they knew a trick worth two of that. I perceived at once that the faith which endures beyond its own knowledge was placed in all I said. In England the gypsy woman, who at home ridicules her own fortune-telling and her dupes, still puts faith in a gusveri mush, or some "wise man," who with crystal or magical apparatus professes occult knowledge; for she thinks that her own false art is an imitation of a true one. It is really amusing to see the reverence with which an old gypsy will look at the awful hieroglyphics in Cornelius Agrippa's "Occult Philosophy," or, better still, "Trithemius," and, as a gift, any ordinary fortune-telling book is esteemed by them beyond rubies. It is true that they cannot read it, but the precious volume is treasured like a fetich, and the owner is happy in the thought of at least possessing darksome and forbidden lore, though it be of no earthly use to her. After all the kindness they had shown me, I could not find it in my heart to refuse to tell these gentle Zingari their little fortunes. It is not, I admit, exactly in the order of things that the chicken should dress the cook, or the Gorgio tell fortunes to gypsies; but he who wanders in strange lands meets with strange adventures. So, with a full knowledge of the legal penalties attached in England to palmistry and other conjuration, and with the then pending Slade case knocking heavily on my conscience, I proceeded to examine and predict. When I afterward narrated this incident to the late G. H. Lewes, he expressed himself to the effect that to tell fortunes to gypsies struck him as the very ne plus ultra of cheek,—which shows how extremes meet; for verily it was with great modesty and proper diffidence that I ventured to foretell the lives of these little ladies, having an antipathy to the practice of chiromancing as to other romancing.

I have observed that as among men of great and varied culture, and of extensive experience, there are more complex and delicate shades and half-shades of light in the face, so in the palm the lines are correspondingly varied and broken. Take a man of intellect and a peasant, of equal excellence of figure according to the literal rules of art or of anatomy, and this subtile multiplicity of variety shows itself in the whole body in favor of the "gentleman," so that it would almost seem as if every book we read is republished in the person. The first thing that struck me in these gypsy hands was the fewness of the lines, their clearly defined sweep, and their simplicity. In every one the line of life was unbroken, and, in fine, one might think from a drawing of the hand, and without knowing who its owner might be, that he or she was of a type of character unknown in most great European cities,—a being gifted with special culture, and in a certain simple sense refined, but not endowed with experience in a thousand confused phases of life. The hands of a true genius, who has passed through life earnestly devoted to a single art, however, are on the whole like these of the gypsies. Such, for example, are the hands of Fanny Janauschek, the lines of which agree to perfection with the laws of chiromancy. The art reminds one of Cervantes's ape, who told the past and present, but not the future. And here "tell me what thou hast been, and I will tell what thou wilt be" gives a fine opportunity to the soothsayer.

To avoid mistakes I told the fortunes in French, which was translated into Russian. I need not say that every word was listened to with earnest attention, or that the group of dark but young and comely faces, as they gathered around and bent over, would have made a good subject for a picture. After the girls, the mother must needs hear her dorriki also, and last of all the young Russian gentleman, who seemed to take as earnest an interest in his future as even the gypsies. As he alone understood French, and as he appeared to be un peu gaillard, and, finally, as the lines of his hand said nothing to the contrary, I predicted for him in detail a fortune in which bonnes fortunes were not at all wanting. I think he was pleased, but when I asked him if he would translate what I had said of his future into Russian, he replied with a slight wink and a scarcely perceptible negative. I suppose he had his reasons for declining.

Then we had singing again, and Christopher, the brother, a wild and gay young gypsy, became so excited that while playing the guitar he also danced and caroled, and the sweet voices of the girls rose in chorus, and I was again importuned for the Romany song, and we had altogether a very Bohemian frolic. I was sorry when the early twilight faded into night, and I was obliged, notwithstanding many entreaties to the contrary, to take my leave. These gypsies had been very friendly and kind to me in a strange city, where I had not an acquaintance, and where I had expected none. They had given me of their very best; for they gave me songs which I can never forget, and which were better to me than all the opera could bestow. The young Russian, polite to the last, went bareheaded with me into the street, and, hailing a sleigh-driver, began to bargain for me. In Moscow, as in other places, it makes a great difference in the fare whether one takes a public conveyance from before the first hotel or from a house in the gypsy quarter. I had paid seventy kopecks to come, and I at once found that my new friend and the driver were engaged in wild and fierce dispute whether I should pay twenty or thirty to return.

"Oh, give him thirty!" I exclaimed. "It's little enough."

"Non," replied the Russian, with the air of a man of principles. "Il ne faut pas gater ces gens-la." But I gave the driver thirty, all the same, when we got home, and thereby earned the usual shower of blessings.

A few days afterward, while going from Moscow to St. Petersburg, I made the acquaintance of a young Russian noble and diplomat, who was well informed on all current gossip, and learned from him some curious facts. The first young gentleman whom I had seen among the Romanys of Moscow was the son of a Russian prince by a gypsy mother, and the very noble Englishman whose photograph I had seen in Sarsha's collection had not long ago (as rumor averred) paid desperate attentions to the belle of the Romanys without obtaining the least success. My informant did not know her name. Putting this and that together, I think it highly probable that Sarsha was the young lady, and that the latcho bar, or diamond, which sparkled on her finger had been paid for with British gold, while the donor had gained the same "unluck" which befell one of his type in the Spanish gypsy song as given by George Borrow:—

"Loud sang the Spanish cavalier, And thus his ditty ran: 'God send the gypsy maiden here, But not the gypsy man.'

"On high arose the moon so bright, The gypsy 'gan to sing, 'I gee a Spaniard coming here, I must be on the wing.'"



In June, 1878, I went to Paris, during the great Exhibition. I had been invited by Monsieur Edmond About to attend as a delegate the Congres Internationale Litteraire, which was about to be held in the great city. How we assembled, how M. About distinguished himself as one of the most practical and common-sensible of men of genius, and how we were all finally harangued by M. Victor Hugo with the most extraordinary display of oratorical sky-rockets, Catherine-wheels, blue-lights, fire-crackers, and pin-wheels by which it was ever my luck to be amused, is matter of history. But this chapter is only autobiographical, and we will pass over the history. As an Anglo-American delegate, I was introduced to several great men gratis; to the greatest of all I introduced myself at the expense of half a franc. This was to the Chinese giant, Chang, who was on exhibition at a small cafe garden near the Trocadero. There were no other visitors in his pavilion when I entered. He received me with politeness, and we began to converse in fourth-story English, but gradually went down-stairs into Pidgin, until we found ourselves fairly in the kitchen of that humble but entertaining dialect. It is a remarkable sensation to sit alone with a mild monster, and feel like a little boy. I do not distinctly remember whether Chang is eight, or ten or twelve feet high; I only know that, though I am, as he said, "one velly big piecee man," I sat and lifted my eyes from time to time at the usual level, forgetfully expecting to meet his eyes, and beheld instead the buttons on his breast. Then I looked up—like Daruma to Buddha—and up, and saw far above me his "lights of the soul" gleaming down on me as it were from the top of a lofty beacon.

I soon found that Chang, regarding all things from a giant's point of view, esteemed mankind by their size and looks. Therefore, as he had complimented me according to his lights, I replied that he was a "numpa one too muchee glanti handsome man, first chop big."

Then he added, "You belongy Inklis man?"

"No. My one piecee fa-ke-kwok; {69} my Melican, galaw. You dlinkee ale some-tim?"

The giant replied that pay-wine, which is Pidgin for beer, was not ungrateful to his palate or foreign to his habits. So we had a quart of Alsopp between us, and drank to better acquaintance. I found that the giant had exhibited himself in many lands, and taken great pains to learn the language of each, so that he spoke German, Italian, and Spanish well enough. He had been at a mission-school when he used to "stop China-side," or was in his native land. I assured him that I had perceived it from the first, because he evidently "talked ink," as his countrymen say of words which are uttered by a scholar, and I greatly gratified him by citing some of my own "beautiful verses," which are reversed from a Chinese original:—

"One man who never leadee {69a} Like one dly {69b} inkstan be: You turn he up-side downy, No ink lun {69c} outside he."

So we parted with mutual esteem. This was the second man by the name of Chang whom I had known, and singularly enough they were both exhibited as curiosities. The other made a living as a Siamese twin, and his brother was named Eng. They wrote their autographs for me, and put them wisely at the very top of the page, lest I should write a promise to pay an immense sum of money, or forge a free pass to come into the exhibition gratis over their signatures.

Having seen Chang, I returned to the Hotel de Louvre, dined, and then went forth with friends to the Orangerie. This immense garden, devoted to concerts, beer, and cigars, is said to be capable of containing three thousand people; before I left it it held about five thousand. I knew not why this unwonted crowd had assembled; when I found the cause I was astonished, with reason. At the gate was a bill, on which I read "Les Bohemiennes de Moscow."

"Some small musical comedy, I suppose," I said to myself. "But let us see it." We pressed on.

"Look there!" said my companion. "Those are certainly gypsies."

Sure enough, a procession of men and women, strangely dressed in gayly colored Oriental garments, was entering the gates. But I replied, "Impossible. Not here in Paris. Probably they are performers."

"But see. They notice you. That girl certainly knows you. She's turning her head. There,—I heard her say O Romany rye!"

I was bewildered. The crowd was dense, but as the procession passed me at a second turn I saw they were indeed gypsies, and I was grasped by the hand by more than one. They were my old friends from Moscow. This explained the immense multitude. There was during the Exhibition a great furor as regarded les zigains. The gypsy orchestra which performed in the Hungarian cafe was so beset by visitors that a comic paper represented them as covering the roofs of the adjacent houses so as to hear something. This evening the Russian gypsies were to make their debut in the Orangerie, and they were frightened at their own success. They sang, but their voices were inaudible to two thirds of the audience, and those who could not hear roared, "Louder!" Then they adjourned to the open air, where the voices were lost altogether on a crowd calling, "Garconviteune tasse cafe!" or applauding. In the intervals scores of young Russian gentlemen, golden swells, who had known the girls of old, gathered round the fair ones like moths around tapers. The singing was not the same as it had been; the voices were the same, but the sweet wild charm of the Romany caroling, bird-like, for pleasure was gone.

But I found by themselves and unnoticed two of the troupe, whom I shall not soon forget. They were two very handsome youths,—one of sixteen years, the other twenty. And with the first words in Romany they fairly jumped for joy; and the artist who could have caught their picture then would have made a brave one. They were clad in blouses of colored silk, which, with their fine dark complexions and great black eyes, gave them a very picturesque air. These had not seen me in Russia, nor had they heard of me; they were probably from Novogorod. Like the girls they were children, but in a greater degree, for they had not been flattered, and kind words delighted them so that they clapped their hands. They began to hum gypsy songs, and had I not prevented it they would have run at once and brought a guitar, and improvised a small concert for me al fresco. I objected to this, not wishing to take part any longer in such a very public exhibition. For the gobe-mouches and starers, noticing a stranger talking with ces zigains, had begun to gather in a dense crowd around us, and the two ladies and the gentleman who were with us were seriously inconvenienced. We endeavored to step aside, but the multitude stepped aside also, and would not let us alone. They were French, but they might have been polite. As it was, they broke our merry conference up effectively, and put us to flight.

"Do let us come and see you, rya," said the younger boy. "We will sing, for I can really sing beautifully, and we like you so much. Where do you live?"

I could not invite them, for I was about to leave Paris, as I then supposed. I have never seen them since, and there was no adventure and no strange scenery beyond the thousands of lights and guests and trees and voices speaking French. Yet to this day the gay boyishness, the merry laughter, and the child-like naivete of the promptly-formed liking of those gypsy youths remains impressed on my mind with all the color and warmth of an adventure or a living poem. Can you recall no child by any wayside of life to whom you have given a chance smile or a kind word, and been repaid with artless sudden attraction? For to all of us,—yes, to the coldest and worst,—there are such memories of young people, of children, and I pity him who, remembering them, does not feel the touch of a vanished hand and hear a chord which is still. There are adventures which we can tell to others as stories, but the best have no story; they may be only the memory of a strange dog which followed us, and I have one such of a cat who, without any introduction, leaped wildly towards me, "and would not thence away." It is a good life which has many such memories.

I was walking a day or two after with an English friend, who was also a delegate to the International Literary Congress, in the Exhibition, when we approached the side gate, or rear entrance of the Hungarian cafe. Six or seven dark and strange-looking men stood about, dressed in the uniform of a military band. I caught their glances, and saw that they were Romany.

"Now you shall see something queer," I said to my friend.

So advancing to the first dark man I greeted him in gypsy.

"I do not understand you," he promptly replied—or lied.

I turned to a second.

"You have more sense, and you do understand. Adro miro tem penena mande o baro rai." (In my country the gypsies call me the great gentleman.)

This phrase may be translated to mean either the "tall gentleman" or the "great lord." It was apparently taken in the latter sense, for at once all the party bowed very low, raising their hands to their foreheads, in Oriental fashion.

"Hallo!" exclaimed my English friend, who had not understood what I had said. "What game is this you are playing on these fellows?"

Up to the front came a superior, the leader of the band.

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

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

"Ich spreche nur Deutsch!" he exclaimed, with a strong Vienna accent and a roar of laughter. "I only talk German."

This worthy man, I found, was as much delighted with my German as the leader with my gypsy; and in all my experience I never met two beings so charmed at being able to converse. That I should have met with them was of itself wonderful. Only there was this difference: that the Viennese burst into a laugh every time he spoke, while the gypsy grew more sternly solemn and awfully impressive. There are people to whom mere talking is a pleasure,—never mind the ideas,—and here I had struck two at once. I once knew a gentleman named Stewart. He was the mayor, first physician, and postmaster of St. Paul, Minnesota. While camping out, en route, and in a tent with him, it chanced that among the other gentlemen who had tented with us there were two terrible snorers. Now Mr. Stewart had heard that you may stop a man's snoring by whistling. And here was a wonderful opportunity. "So I waited," he said, "until one man was coming down with his snore, diminuendo, while the other was rising, crescendo, and at the exact point of intersection, moderato, I blew my car-whistle, and so got both birds at one shot. I stopped them both." Even as Mayor Stewart had winged his two birds with one ball had I hit my two peregrines.

"We are now going to perform," said the gypsy captain. "Will you not take seats on the platform, and hear us play?"

I did not know it at the time, but I heard afterwards that this was a great compliment, and one rarely bestowed. The platform was small, and we were very near our new friends. Scarcely had the performance begun ere I perceived that, just as the gypsies in Russia had sung their best in my honor, these artists were exerting themselves to the utmost, and, all unheeding the audience, playing directly at me and into me. When any tour was deftly made the dark master nodded to me with gleaming eyes, as if saying, "What do you think of that, now?" The Viennese laughed for joy every time his glance met mine, and as I looked at the various Lajoshes and Joshkas of the band, they blew, beat, or scraped with redoubled fury, or sank into thrilling tenderness. Hurrah! here was somebody to play to who knew gypsy and all the games thereof; for a very little, even a word, reveals a great deal, and I must be a virtuoso, at least by Romany, if not by art. It was with all the joy of success that the first piece ended amid thunders of applause.

"That was not the racoczy," I said. "Yet it sounded like it."

"No," said the captain. "But now you shall hear the racoczy and the czardas as you never heard them before. For we can play that better than any orchestra in Vienna. Truly, you will never forget us after hearing it."

And then they played the racoczy, the national Hungarian favorite, of gypsy composition, with heart and soul. As these men played for me, inspired with their own music, feeling and enjoying it far more than the audience, and all because they had got a gypsy gentleman to play to, I appreciated what a life that was to them, and what it should be; not cold-blooded skill, aiming only at excellence or preexcellence and at setting up the artist, but a fire and a joy, a self-forgetfulness which whirls the soul away as the soul of the Moenad went with the stream adown the mountains,—Evoe Bacchus! This feeling is deep in the heart of the Hungarian gypsy; he plays it, he feels it in every air, he knows the rush of the stream as it bounds onwards,—knows that it expresses his deepest desire; and so he has given it words in a song which, to him who has the key, is one of the most touching ever written:—

"Dyal o pani repedishis, M'ro pirano hegedishis;

"Dyal o pani tale vatra, M'ro pirano klanetaha.

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

"The stream runs on with rushing din As I hear my true love's violin;

"And the river rolls o'er rock and stone As he plays the flute so sweet alone.

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

Yes, music whirling the soul away as on a rushing river, the violin notes falling like ripples, the flute tones all aflow among the rocks; and when it sweeps adagio on the sandy bed, then the gypsy player is at heart equal to a lord, then he feels a gentleman. The only true republic is art. There all earthly distinctions pass away; there he is best who lives and feels best, and makes others feel, not that he is cleverer than they, but that he can awaken sympathy and joy.

The intense reality of musical art as a comforter to these gypsies of Eastern Europe is wonderful. Among certain inedited songs of the Transylvanian gypsies, in the Kolosvarer dialect, I find the following:—

"Na janav ko dad m'ro as, Niko mallen mange as, Miro gule dai merdyas Pirani me pregelyas. Uva tu o hegedive Tu sal mindik pash mange."

"I've known no father since my birth, I have no friend alive on earth; My mother's dead this many day, The girl I loved has gone her way; Thou violin with music free Alone art ever true to me."

It is very wonderful that the charm of the Russian gypsy girls' singing was destroyed by the atmosphere or applause of a Paris concert-room, while the Hungarian Romanys conquered it as it were by sheer force, and by conquering gave their music the charm of intensity. I do not deny that in this music, be it of voice or instruments, there is much which is perhaps imagined, which depends on association, which is plain to John but not to Jack; but you have only to advance or retreat a few steps to find the same in the highest art. This, at least, we know: that no performer at any concert in London can awake the feeling of intense enjoyment which these wild minstrels excite in themselves and in others by sympathy. Now it is a question in many forms as to whether art for enjoyment is to die, and art for the sake of art alone survive. Is joyous and healthy nature to vanish step by step from the heart of man, and morbid, egoistic pessimism to take its place? Are over-culture, excessive sentiment, constant self-criticism, and all the brood of nervous curses to monopolize and inspire art? A fine alliance this they are making, the ascetic monk and the atheistic pessimist, to kill Nature! They will never effect it. It may die in many forms. It may lose its charm, as the singing of Sarsha and of Liubasha was lost among the rustling and noise of thousands of Parisian badauds in the Orangerie. But there will be stronger forms of art, which will make themselves heard, as the Hungarian Romanys heeded no din, and bore all away with their music.

"Latcho divvus miri pralia!—miduvel atch pa tumende!" (Good-day, my brothers. God rest on you) I said, and they rose and bowed, and I went forth into the Exhibition. It was a brave show, that of all the fine things from all parts of the world which man can make, but to me the most interesting of all were the men themselves. Will not the managers of the next world show give us a living ethnological department?

Of these Hungarian gypsies who played in Paris during the Exhibition much was said in the newspapers, and from the following, which appeared in an American journal, written by some one to me unknown, the reader may learn that there were many others to whom their music was deeply thrilling or wildly exciting:—

"The Hungarian Tziganes (Zigeuner) are the rage just now at Paris. The story is that Liszt picked out the individuals composing the band one by one from among the gypsy performers in Hungary and Bohemia. Half-civilized in appearance, dressed in an unbecoming half-military costume, they are nothing while playing Strauss' waltzes or their own; but when they play the Radetsky Defile, the Racoksky March, or their marvelous czardas, one sees and hears the battle, and it is easy to understand the influence of their music in fomenting Hungarian revolutions; why for so long it was made treasonable to play or listen to these czardas; and why, as they heard them, men rose to their feet, gathered together, and with tears rolling down their faces, and throats swelling with emotion, departed to do or die."

And when I remember that they played for me as they said they had played for no other man in Paris, "into the ear,"—and when I think of the gleam in their eyes, I verily believe they told the truth,—I feel glad that I chanced that morning on those dark men and spoke to them in Romany.

* * * * *

Since the above was written I have met in an entertaining work called "Unknown Hungary," by Victor Tissot, with certain remarks on the Hungarian gypsy musicians which are so appropriate that I cite them in full:—

"The gypsy artists in Hungary play by inspiration, with inimitable verve and spirit, without even knowing their notes, and nothing whatever of the rhymes and rules of the masters. Liszt, who has closely studied them, says, The art of music being for them a sublime language, a song, mystic in itself, though dear to the initiated, they use it according to the wants of the moment which they wish to express. They have invented their music for their own use, to sing about themselves to themselves, to express themselves in the most heartfelt and touching monologues.

"Their music is as free as their lives; no intermediate modulation, no chords, no transition, it goes from one key to another. From ethereal heights they precipitate you into the howling depths of hell; from the plaint, barely heard, they pass brusquely to the warrior's song, which bursts loudly forth, passionate and tender, at once burning and calm. Their melodies plunge you into a melancholy reverie, or carry you away into a stormy whirlwind; they are a faithful expression of the Hungarian character, sometimes quick, brilliant, and lively, sometimes sad and apathetic.

"The gypsies, when they arrived in Hungary, had no music of their own; they appropriated the Magyar music, and made from it an original art which now belongs to them."

I here break in upon Messieurs Tissot and Liszt to remark that, while it is very probable that the Roms reformed Hungarian music, it is rather boldly assumed that they had no music of their own. It was, among other callings, as dancers and musicians that they left India and entered Europe, and among them were doubtless many descendants of the ten thousand Indo-Persian Luris or Nuris. But to resume quotation:—

"They made from it an art full of life, passion, laughter, and tears. The instrument which the gypsies prefer is the violin, which they call bas' alja, 'the king of instruments.' They also play the viola, the cymbal, and the clarionet.

"There was a pause. The gypsies, who had perceived at a table a comfortable-looking man, evidently wealthy, and on a pleasure excursion in the town, came down from their platform, and ranged themselves round him to give him a serenade all to himself, as is their custom. They call this 'playing into the ear.'

"They first asked the gentleman his favorite air, and then played it with such spirit and enthusiasm and overflowing richness of variation and ornament, and with so much emotion, that it drew forth the applause of the whole company. After this they executed a czardas, one of the wildest, most feverish, harshest, and, one may say, tormenting, as if to pour intoxication into the soul of their listener. They watched his countenance to note the impression produced by the passionate rhythm of their instruments; then, breaking off suddenly, they played a hushed, soft, caressing measure; and again, almost breaking the trembling cords of their bows, they produced such an intensity of effect that the listener was almost beside himself with delight and astonishment. He sat as if bewitched; he shut his eyes, hung his head in melancholy, or raised it with a start, as the music varied; then jumped up and struck the back of his head with his hands. He positively laughed and cried at once; then, drawing a roll of bank-notes from his pocket-book, he threw it to the gypsies, and fell back in his chair, as if exhausted with so much enjoyment. And in this lies the triumph of the gypsy music; it is like that of Orpheus, which moved the rocks and trees. The soul of the Hungarian plunges, with a refinement of sensation that we can understand, but cannot follow, into this music, which, like the unrestrained indulgence of the imagination in fantasy and caprice, gives to the initiated all the intoxicating sensations experienced by opium smokers."

The Austrian gypsies have many songs which perfectly reflect their character. Most of them are only single verses of a few lines, such as are sung everywhere in Spain; others, which are longer, seem to have grown from the connection of these verses. The following translation from the Roumanian Romany (Vassile Alexandri) gives an idea of their style and spirit:—


The wind whistles over the heath, The moonlight flits over the flood; And the gypsy lights up his fire, In the darkness of the wood. Hurrah! In the darkness of the wood.

Free is the bird in the air, And the fish where the river flows; Free is the deer in the forest, And the gypsy wherever he goes. Hurrah! And the gypsy wherever he goes.


Girl, wilt thou live in my home? I will give thee a sable gown, And golden coins for a necklace, If thou wilt be my own.


No wild horse will leave the prairie For a harness with silver stars; Nor an eagle the crags of the mountain, For a cage with golden bars;

Nor the gypsy girl the forest, Or the meadow, though gray and cold, For garments made of sable, Or necklaces of gold.


Girl, wilt thou live in my dwelling, For pearls and diamonds true? {82} I will give thee a bed of scarlet, And a royal palace, too.


My white teeth are my pearlins, My diamonds my own black eyes; My bed is the soft green meadow, My palace the world as it lies.

Free is the bird in the air, And the fish where the river flows; Free is the deer in the forest, And the gypsy wherever he goes. Hurrah! And the gypsy wherever he goes.

There is a deep, strange element in the gypsy character, which finds no sympathy or knowledge in the German, and very little in other Europeans, but which is so much in accord with the Slavonian and Hungarian that he who truly feels it with love is often disposed to mingle them together. It is a dreamy mysticism; an indefinite semi-supernaturalism, often passing into gloom; a feeling as of Buddhism which has glided into Northern snows, and taken a new and darker life in winter-lands. It is strong in the Czech or Bohemian, whose nature is the worst understood in the civilized world. That he should hate the German with all his heart and soul is in the order of things. We talk about the mystical Germans, but German self-conscious mysticism is like a problem of Euclid beside the natural, unexpressed dreaminess of the Czech. The German mystic goes to work at once to expound his "system" in categories, dressing it up in a technology which in the end proves to be the only mystery in it. The Bohemian and gypsy, each in their degrees of culture, form no system and make no technology, but they feel all the more. Now the difference between true and imitative mysticism is that the former takes no form; it is even narrowed by religious creeds, and wing-clipt by pious "illumination." Nature, and nature alone, is its real life. It was from the Southern Slavonian lands that all real mysticism, and all that higher illumination which means freedom, came into Germany and Europe; and after all, Germany's first and best mystic, Jacob Bohme, was Bohemian by name, as he was by nature. When the world shall have discovered who the as yet unknown Slavonian German was who wrote all the best part of "Consuelo," and who helped himself in so doing from "Der letzte Taborit," by Herlossohn, we shall find one of the few men who understood the Bohemian.

Once in a while, as in Fanny Janauschek, the Czech bursts out into art, and achieves a great triumph. I have seen Rachel and Ristori many a time, but their best acting was shallow compared to Janauschek's, as I have seen it in by-gone years, when she played Iphigenia and Medea in German. No one save a Bohemian could ever so intuit the gloomy profundity and unearthly fire of the Colchian sorceress. These are the things required to perfect every artist,—above all, the tragic artist,—that the tree of his or her genius shall not only soar to heaven among the angels, but also have roots in the depths of darkness and fire; and that he or she shall play not only to the audience, and in sympathy with them, but also unto one's self and down to one's deepest dreams.

No one will accuse me of wide discussion or padding who understands my drift in this chapter. I am speaking of the gypsy, and I cannot explain him more clearly than by showing his affinities with the Slavonian and Magyar, and how, through music and probably in many other ways, he has influenced them. As the Spaniard perfectly understands the objective vagabond side of the Gitano, so the Southeastern European understands the musical and wild-forest yearnings of the Tsigane. Both to gypsy and Slavonian there is that which makes them dream so that even debauchery has for them at times an unearthly inspiration; and as smoking was inexpressibly sacred to the red Indians of old, so that when the Guatemalan Christ harried hell, the demons offered him cigars; in like manner tipsiness is often to the gypsy and Servian, or Czech, or Croat, something so serious and impressive that it is a thing not to be lightly thought of, but to be undertaken with intense deliberation and under due appreciation of its benefits.

Many years ago, when I had begun to feel this strange element I gave it expression in a poem which I called "The Bohemian," as expressive of both gypsy and Slavonian nature:—


Chces li tajnou vec aneb pravdu vyzvedeti Blazen, dite opily clovek o tom umeji povodeti.

Wouldst thou know a truth or mystery, A drunkard, fool, or child may tell it thee


And now I'll wrap my blanket o'er me, And on the tavern floor I'll lie, A double spirit-flask before me, And watch my pipe clouds, melting, die.

They melt and die, but ever darken As night comes on and hides the day, Till all is black; then, brothers, hearken, And if ye can write down my lay.

In yon long loaf my knife is gleaming, Like one black sail above the boat; As once at Pesth I saw it beaming, Half through a dark Croatian throat.

Now faster, faster, whirls the ceiling, And wilder, wilder, turns my brain; And still I'll drink, till, past all feeling, My soul leaps forth to light again.

Whence come these white girls wreathing round me? Barushka!—long I thought thee dead; Katchenka!—when these arms last bound thee Thou laid'st by Rajrad, cold as lead.

And faster, faster, whirls the ceiling, And wilder, wilder, turns my brain; And from afar a star comes stealing Straight at me o'er the death-black plain.

Alas! I sink. My spirits miss me. I swim, I shoot from shore to shore! Klara! thou golden sister—kiss me! I rise—I'm safe—I'm strong once more.

And faster, faster, whirls the ceiling, And wilder, wilder, whirls my brain; The star!—it strikes my soul, revealing All life and light to me again.

* * * * *

Against the waves fresh waves are dashing, Above the breeze fresh breezes blow; Through seas of light new light is flashing, And with them all I float and flow.

Yet round me rings of fire are gleaning,— Pale rings of fire, wild eyes of death! Why haunt me thus, awake or dreaming? Methought I left ye with my breath!

Ay, glare and stare, with life increasing, And leech-like eyebrows, arching in; Be, if ye must, my fate unceasing, But never hope a fear to win.

He who knows all may haunt the haunter, He who fears naught hath conquered fate; Who bears in silence quells the daunter, And makes his spoiler desolate.

O wondrous eyes, of star-like lustre, How have ye changed to guardian love! Alas! where stars in myriads cluster, Ye vanish in the heaven above.

* * * * *

I hear two bells so softly ringing; How sweet their silver voices roll! The one on distant hills is ringing, The other peals within my soul.

I hear two maidens gently talking, Bohemian maids, and fair to see: The one on distant hills is walking, The other maiden,—where is she?

Where is she? When the moonlight glistens O'er silent lake or murmuring stream, I hear her call my soul, which listens, "Oh, wake no more! Come, love, and dream!"

She came to earth, earth's loveliest creature; She died, and then was born once more; Changed was her race, and changed each feature, But yet I loved her as before.

We live, but still, when night has bound me In golden dreams too sweet to last, A wondrous light-blue world around me, She comes,—the loved one of the past.

I know not which I love the dearest, For both the loves are still the same: The living to my life is nearest, The dead one feeds the living flame.

And when the sun, its rose-wine quaffing, Which flows across the Eastern deep, Awakes us, Klara chides me, laughing, And says we love too well in sleep.

And though no more a Voivode's daughter, As when she lived on earth before, The love is still the same which sought her, And I am true, and ask no more.

* * * * *

Bright moonbeams on the sea are playing, And starlight shines upon the hill, And I should wake, but still delaying In our old life I linger still.

For as the wind clouds flit above me, And as the stars above them shine, My higher life's in those who love me, And higher still, our life's divine.

And thus I raise my soul by drinking, As on the tavern floor I lie; It heeds not whence begins our thinking If to the end its flight is high.

E'en outcasts may have heart and feeling, The blackest wild Tsigan be true, And love, like light in dungeons stealing, Though bars be there, will still burst through.

It is the reecho of more than one song of those strange lands, of more than one voice, and of many a melody; and those who have heard them, though not more distinctly than Francois Villon when he spoke of flinging the question back by silent lake and streamlet lone, will understand me, and say it is true to nature.

In a late work on Magyarland, by a lady Fellow of the Carpathian Society, I find more on Hungarian gypsy music, which is so well written that I quote fully from it, being of the opinion that one ought, when setting forth any subject, to give quite as good an opportunity to others who are in our business as to ourselves. And truly this lady has felt the charm of the Tsigan music and describes it so well that one wishes she were a Romany in language and by adoption, like unto a dozen dames and damsels whom I know.

"The Magyars have a perfect passion for this gypsy music, and there is nothing that appeals so powerfully to their emotions, whether of joy or sorrow. These singular musicians are, as a rule, well taught, and can play almost any music, greatly preferring, however, their own compositions. Their music, consequently, is highly characteristic. It is the language of their lives and strange surroundings, a wild, weird banshee music: now all joy and sparkle, like sunshine on the plains; now sullen, sad, and pathetic by turns, like the wail of a crushed and oppressed people,—an echo, it is said, of the minstrelsy of the hegedosok or Hungarian bards, but sounding to our ears like the more distant echo of that exceeding bitter cry, uttered long centuries ago by their forefathers under Egyptian bondage, and borne over the time-waves of thousands of years, breaking forth in their music of to-day."

Here I interrupt the lady—with all due courtesy—to remark that I cannot agree with her, nor with her probable authority, Walter Simson, in believing that the gypsies are the descendants of the mixed races who followed Moses out of Egypt. The Rom in Egypt is a Hindoo stranger now, as he ever was. But that the echo of centuries of outlawry and wretchedness and wildness rises and falls, like the ineffable discord in a wind-harp, in Romany airs is true enough, whatever its origin may have been. But I beg pardon, madam,—I interrupted you.

"The soul-stirring, madly exciting, and martial strains of the Racoczys—one of the Revolutionary airs—has just died upon the ear. A brief interval of rest has passed. Now listen with bated breath to that recitative in the minor key,—that passionate wail, that touching story, the gypsies' own music, which rises and falls on the air. Knives and forks are set down, hands and arms hang listless, all the seeming necessities of the moment being either suspended or forgotten,—merged in the memories which those vibrations, so akin to human language, reawaken in each heart. Eyes involuntarily fill with tears, as those pathetic strains echo back and make present some sorrow of long ago, or rouse from slumber that of recent time. . . .

"And now, the recitative being ended, and the last chord struck, the melody begins, of which the former was the prelude. Watch the movements of the supple figure of the first violin, standing in the centre of the other musicians, who accompany him softly. How every nerve is en rapport with his instrument, and how his very soul is speaking through it! See how gently he draws the bow across the trembling strings, and how lovingly he lays his cheek upon it, as if listening to some responsive echo of his heart's inmost feeling, for it is his mystic language! How the instrument lives and answers to his every touch, sending forth in turn utterances tender, sad, wild, and joyous! The audience once more hold their breath to catch the dying tones, as the melody, so rich, so beautiful, so full of pathos, is drawing to a close. The tension is absolutely painful as the gypsy dwells on the last lingering note, and it is a relief when, with a loud and general burst of sound, every performer starts into life and motion. Then what crude and wild dissonances are made to resolve themselves into delicious harmony! What rapturous and fervid phrases, and what energy and impetuosity, are there in every motion of the gypsies' figures, as their dark eyes glisten and emit flashes in unison with the tones!"

The writer is gifted in giving words to gypsy music. One cannot say, as the inexhaustible Cad writes of Niagara ten times on a page in the Visitors' Book, that it is indescribable. I think that if language means anything this music has been very well described by the writers whom I have cited. When I am told that the gypsies' impetuous and passionate natures make them enter into musical action with heart and soul, I feel not only the strains played long ago, but also hear therein the horns of Elfland blowing,—which he who has not heard, of summer days, in the drone of the bee, by reedy rustling stream, will never know on earth in any wise. But once heard it comes ever, as I, though in the city, heard it last night in the winter wind, with Romany words mingled in wild refrain:—

"Kamava tute, miri chelladi!"


It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, and I was walking down Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, when I met with three very dark men.

Dark men are not rarities in my native city. There is, for instance, Eugene, who has the invaluable faculty of being able to turn his hand to an infinite helpfulness in the small arts. These men were darker than Eugene, but they differed from him in this, that while he is a man of color, they were not. For in America the man of Aryan blood, however dark he may be, is always "off" color, while the lightest-hued quadroon is always on it. Which is not the only paradox connected with the descendants of Africans of which I have heard.

I saw at a glance that these dark men were much nearer to the old Aryan stock than are even my purely white readers. For they were more recently from India, and they could speak a language abounding in Hindi, in pure old Sanskrit, and in Persian. Yet they would make no display of it; on the contrary, I knew that they would be very likely at first to deny all knowledge thereof, as well as their race and blood. For they were gypsies; it was very apparent in their eyes, which had the Gitano gleam as one seldom sees it in England. I confess that I experienced a thrill as I exchanged glances with them. It was a long time since I had seen a Romany, and, as usual, I knew that I was going to astonish them. They were singularly attired, having very good clothes of a quite theatrical foreign fashion, bearing silver buttons as large as and of the shape of hen's eggs. Their hair hung in black ringlets down their shoulders, and I saw that they had come from the Austrian Slavonian land.

I addressed the eldest in Italian. He answered fluently and politely. I changed to Ilirski or Illyrian and to Serb, of which I have a few phrases in stock. They spoke all these languages fluently, for one was a born Illyrian and one a Serb. They also spoke Nemetz, or German; in fact, everything except English.

"Have you got through all your languages?" I at last inquired.

"Tutte, signore,—all of them."

"Isn't there one left behind, which you have forgotten? Think a minute."

"No, signore. None."

"What, not one! You know so many that perhaps a language more or less makes no difference to you."

"By the Lord, signore, you have seen every egg in the basket."

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

"Ne rakesa tu Romanes miro prala?"

There was a startled glance from one to the other, and a silence. I had asked him if he could not talk Romany. And I added,—

"Won't you talk a word with a gypsy brother?"

That moved them. They all shook my hands with great feeling, expressing intense joy and amazement at meeting with one who knew them.

"Mishto hom me dikava tute." (I am glad to see you.) So they told me how they were getting on, and where they were camped, and how they sold horses, and so on, and we might have got on much farther had it not been for a very annoying interruption. As I was talking to the gypsies, a great number of men, attracted by the sound of a foreign language, stopped, and fairly pushed themselves up to us, endeavoring to make it all out. When there were at least fifty, they crowded in between me and the foreigners, so that I could hardly talk to them. The crowd did not consist of ordinary people, or snobs. They were well dressed,—young clerks, at least,—who would have fiercely resented being told that they were impertinent.

"Eye-talians, ain't they?" inquired one man, who was evidently zealous in pursuit of knowledge.

"Why don't you tell us what they are sayin'?"

"What kind of fellers air they, any way?"

I was desirous of going with the Hungarian Roms. But to walk along Chestnut Street with an augmenting procession of fifty curious Sunday promenaders was not on my card. In fact, I had some difficulty in tearing myself from the inquisitive, questioning, well-dressed people. The gypsies bore the pressure with the serene equanimity of cosmopolite superiority, smiling at provincial rawness. Even so in China and Africa the traveler is mobbed by the many, who, there as here, think that "I want to know" is full excuse for all intrusiveness. Q'est tout comme chez nous. I confess that I was vexed, and, considering that it was in my native city, mortified.

A few days after I went out to the tan where these Roms had camped. But the birds had flown, and a little pile of ashes and the usual debris of a gypsy camp were all that remained. The police told me that they had some very fine horses, and had gone to the Northwest; and that is all I ever saw of them.

I have heard of a philanthropist who was turned into a misanthrope by attempting to sketch in public and in galleries. Respectable strangers, even clergymen, would stop and coolly look over his shoulder, and ask questions, and give him advice, until he could work no longer. Why is it that people who would not speak to you for life without an introduction should think that their small curiosity to see your sketches authorizes them to act as aquaintances? Or why is the pursuit of knowledge assumed among the half-bred to be an excuse for so much intrusion? "I want to know." Well, and what if you do? The man who thinks that his desire for knowledge is an excuse for impertinence—and there are too many who act on this in all sincerity—is of the kind who knocks the fingers off statues, because "he wants them" for his collection; who chips away tombstones, and hews down historic trees, and not infrequently steals outright, and thinks that his pretense of culture is full excuse for all his mean deeds. Of this tribe is the man who cuts his name on all walls and smears it on the pyramids, to proclaim himself a fool to the world; the difference being that, instead of wanting to know anything, he wants everybody to know that His Littleness was once in a great place.

I knew a distinguished artist, who, while in the East, only secured his best sketch of a landscape by employing fifty men to keep off the multitude. I have seen a strange fellow take a lady's sketch out of her hand, excusing himself with the remark that he was so fond of pictures. Of course my readers do not act thus. When they are passing through the Louvre or British Museum they never pause and overlook artists, despite the notices requesting them not to do so. Of course not. Yet I once knew a charming young American lady, who scouted the idea as nonsense that she should not watch artists at work. "Why, we used to make up parties for the purpose of looking at them!" she said. "It was half the fun of going there. I'm sure the artists were delighted to get a chance to talk to us." Doubtless. And yet there are really very few artists who do not work more at their ease when not watched, and I have known some to whom such watching was misery. They are not, O intruder, painting for your amusement!

This is not such a far cry from my Romanys as it may seem. When I think of what I have lost in this life by impertinence coming between me and gypsies, I feel that it could not be avoided. The proportion of men, even of gentlemen, or of those who dress decently, who cannot see another well-dressed man talking with a very poor one in public, without at once surmising a mystery, and endeavoring to solve it, is amazing. And they do not stop at a trifle, either.

It is a marked characteristic of all gypsies that they are quite free from any such mean intrusiveness. Whether it is because they themselves are continually treated as curiosities, or because great knowledge of life in a small way has made them philosophers, I will not say, but it is a fact that in this respect they are invariably the politest people in the world. Perhaps their calm contempt of the galerly, or green Gorgios, is founded on a consciousness of their superiority in this matter.

The Hungarian gypsy differs from all his brethren of Europe in being more intensely gypsy. He has deeper, wilder, and more original feeling in music, and he is more inspired with a love of travel. Numbers of Hungarian Romany chals—in which I include all Austrian gypsies—travel annually all over Europe, but return as regularly to their own country. I have met with them exhibiting bears in Baden-Baden. These Ricinari, or bear-leaders, form, however, a set within a set, and are in fact more nearly allied to the gypsy bear-leaders of Turkey and Syria than to any other of their own people. They are wild and rude to a proverb, and generally speak a peculiar dialect of Romany, which is called the Bear-leaders' by philologists. I have also seen Syrian-gypsy Ricinari in Cairo. Many of the better caste make a great deal of money, and some are rich. Like all really pure-blooded gypsies, they have deep feelings, which are easily awakened by kindness, but especially by sympathy and interest.



Oatlands Park (between Weybridge and Walton-upon-Thames) was once the property of the Duke of York, but now the lordly manor-house is a hotel. The grounds about it are well preserved and very picturesque. They should look well, for they cover a vast and wasted fortune. There is, for instance, a grotto which cost forty thousand pounds. It is one of those wretched and tasteless masses of silly rock-rococo work which were so much admired at the beginning of the present century, when sham ruins and sham caverns were preferred to real. There is, also, close by the grotto, a dogs' burial-ground, in which more than a hundred animals, the favorites of the late duchess, lie buried. Over each is a tombstone, inscribed with a rhyming epitaph, written by the titled lady herself, and which is in sober sadness in every instance doggerel, as befits the subject. In order to degrade the associations of religion and church rites as effectually as possible, there is attached to these graves the semblance of a ruined chapel, the stained-glass window of which was taken from a church. {97} I confess that I could never see either grotto or grave-yard without sincerely wishing, out of regard to the memory of both duke and duchess, that these ridiculous relics of vulgar taste and affected sentimentalism could be completely obliterated. But, apart from them, the scenes around are very beautiful; for there are grassy slopes and pleasant lawns, ancient trees and broad gravel walks, over which, as the dry leaves fall on the crisp sunny morning, the feet are tempted to walk on and on, all through the merry golden autumn day.

The neighborhood abounds in memories of olden time. Near Oatlands is a modernized house, in which Henry the Eighth lived in his youth. It belonged then to Cardinal Wolsey; now it is owned by Mr. Lindsay,—a sufficient cause for wits calling it Lindsay-Wolsey, that being also a "fabric." Within an hour's walk is the palace built by Cardinal Wolsey, while over the river, and visible from the portico, is the little old Gothic church of Shepperton, and in the same view, to the right, is the old Walton Bridge, by Cowie Stakes, supposed to cover the exact spot where Caesar crossed. This has been denied by many, but I know that the field adjacent to it abounds in ancient British jars filled with burned bones, the relics of an ancient battle,—probably that which legend states was fought on the neighboring Battle Island. Stout-hearted Queen Bessy has also left her mark on this neighborhood, for within a mile is the old Saxon-towered church of Walton, in which the royal dame was asked for her opinion of the sacrament when it was given to her, to which she replied:—

"Christ was the Word who spake it, He took the bread and brake it; And what that Word did make it, That I believe, and take it."

In memory of this the lines were inscribed on the massy Norman pillar by which she stood. From the style and cutting it is evident that the inscription dates from the reign of Elizabeth. And very near Oatlands, in fact on the grounds, there are two ancient yew-trees, several hundred yards apart. The story runs that Queen Elizabeth once drew a long bow and shot an arrow so far that, to commemorate the deed, one of these trees was planted where she stood, and the other where the shaft fell. All England is a museum of touching or quaint relics; to me one of its most interesting cabinets is this of the neighborhood of Weybridge and Walton-upon-Thames.

I once lived for eight months at Oatlands Park, and learned to know the neighborhood well. I had many friends among the families in the vicinity, and, guided by their advice, wandered to every old church and manor-house, ruin and haunted rock, fairy-oak, tower, palace, or shrine within a day's ramble. But there was one afternoon walk of four miles, round by the river, which I seldom missed. It led by a spot on the bank, and an old willow-tree near the bridge, which spot was greatly haunted by the Romany, so that, excepting during the hopping-season of autumn, when they were away in Kent, I seldom failed to see from afar a light rising smoke, and near it a tent and a van, as the evening shadows blended with the mist from the river in phantom union.

It is a common part of gypsy life that the father shall be away all day, lounging about the next village, possibly in the kitchema or ale-house, or trying to trade a horse, while the wife trudges over the country, from one farm-house or cottage to another, loaded with baskets, household utensils, toys, or cheap ornaments, which she endeavors, like a true Autolyca, with wily arts and wheedling tones, to sell to the rustics. When it can be managed, this hawking is often an introduction to fortune-telling, and if these fail the gypsy has recourse to begging. But it is a weary life, and the poor dye is always glad enough to get home. During the day the children have been left to look out for themselves or to the care of the eldest, and have tumbled about the van, rolled around with the dog, and fought or frolicked as they chose. But though their parents often have a stock of cheap toys, especially of penny dolls and the like, which they put up as prizes for games at races and fairs, I have never seen these children with playthings. The little girls have no dolls; the boys, indeed, affect whips, as becomes incipient jockeys, but on the whole they never seemed to me to have the same ideas as to play as ordinary house-children. The author of "My Indian Garden" has made the same observation of Hindoo little ones, whose ways are not as our ways were when we were young. Roman and Egyptian children had their dolls; and there is something sadly sweet to me in the sight of these barbarous and naive facsimiles of miniature humanity, which come up like little spectres out of the dust of ancient days. They are so rude and queer, these Roman puppets; and yet they were loved once, and had pet names, and their owl-like faces were as tenderly kissed as their little mistresses had been by their mothers. So the Romany girl, unlike the Roman, is generally doll-less and toy-less. But the affection between mother and child is as warm among these wanderers as with any other people; and it is a touching sight to see the gypsy who has been absent all the weary day returning home. And when she is seen from afar off there is a race among all the little dark-brown things to run to mother and get kissed, and cluster and scramble around her, and perhaps receive some little gift which mother's thoughtful love has provided. Knowing these customs, I was wont to fill my pockets with chestnuts or oranges, and, distributing them among the little ones, talk with them, and await the sunset return of their parents. The confidence or love of all children is delightful; but that of gypsy children resembles the friendship of young foxes, and the study of their artless-artful ways is indeed attractive. I can remember that one afternoon six small Romany boys implored me to give them each a penny. I replied,—

"If I had sixpence, how would you divide it?"

"That would be a penny apiece," said the eldest boy.

"And if threepence?"

"A ha'penny apiece."

"And three ha'pence?"

"A farden all round. And then it couldn't go no furder, unless we bought tobacco an' diwided it."

"Well, I have some tobacco. But can any of you smoke?"

They were from four to ten years of age, and at the word every one pulled out the stump of a blackened pipe,—such depraved-looking fragments I never saw,—and holding them all up, and crowding closely around, like hungry poultry with uplifted bills, they began to clamor for tuvalo, or tobacco. They were connoisseurs, too, and the elder boy, as he secured his share, smelled it with intense satisfaction, and said, "That's rye's tuvalo;" that is, "gentleman's tobacco," or best quality.

One evening, as the shadows were darkening the day, I met a little gypsy boy, dragging along, with incredible labor, a sack full of wood, which one needed not go far afield to surmise was neither purchased nor begged. The alarmed and guilty or despairing look which he cast at me was very touching. Perhaps he thought I was the gentleman upon whose property he had "found" the wood; or else a magistrate. How he stared when I spoke to him in Romany, and offered to help him carry it! As we bore it along I suggested that we had better be careful and avoid the police, which remark established perfect confidence between us. But as we came to the tent, what was the amazement of the boy's mother to see him returning with a gentleman helping him to carry his load! And to hear me say in Romany, and in a cheerful tone, "Mother, here is some wood we've been stealing for you."

Gypsies have strong nerves and much cheek, but this was beyond her endowment; she was appalled at the unearthly strangeness of the whole proceeding, and when she spoke there was a skeleton rattle in her words and a quaver of startled ghastliness in her laugh. She had been alarmed for her boy, and when I appeared she thought I was a swell bringing him in under arrest; but when I announced myself in Romany as an accomplice, emotion stifled thought. And I lingered not, and spoke no more, but walked away into the woods and the darkness. However, the legend went forth on the roads, even unto Kingston, and was told among the rollicking Romanys of 'Appy Ampton; for there are always a merry, loafing lot of them about that festive spot, looking out for excursionists through the months when the gorse blooms, and kissing is in season—which is always. And he who seeks them on Sunday may find them camped in Green Lane.

When I wished for a long ramble on the hedge-lined roads—the sweet roads of old England—and by the green fields, I was wont to take a day's walk to Netley Abbey. Then I could pause, as I went, before many a quiet, sheltered spot, adorned with arbors and green alleys, and protected by trees and hawthorn hedges, and again surrender my soul, while walking, to tender and vague reveries, in which all definite thoughts swim overpowered, yet happy, in a sea of voluptuous emotions inspired by clouds lost in the blue sea of heaven and valleys visioned away into the purple sky. What opium is to one, what hasheesh may be to another, what kheyf or mere repose concentrated into actuality is to the Arab, that is Nature to him who has followed her for long years through poets and mystics and in works of art, until at last he pierces through dreams and pictures to reality.

The ruins of Netley Abbey, nine or ten miles from Oatlands Park, are picturesque and lonely, and well fitted for the dream-artist in shadows among sunshine. The priory was called Newstead or De Novo Loco in Norman times, when it was founded by Ruald de Calva, in the day of Richard Coeur de Lion. The ruins rise gray, white, and undressed with ivy, that they may contrast the more vividly with the deep emerald of the meadows around. "The surrounding scenery is composed of rivers and rivulets,"—for seven streams run by it, according to Aubrey,—"of foot-bridge and fords, plashy pools and fringed, tangled hollows, trees in groups or alone, and cattle dotted over the pastures:" an English Cuyp from many points of view, beautiful and English-home-like from all. Very near it is the quaint, out-of-the-way, darling little old church of Pirford, up a hill, nestling among trees, a half-Norman, decorated beauty, out of the age, but altogether in the heart. As I came near, of a summer afternoon, the waving of leaves and the buzzing of bees without, and the hum of the voices of children at school within the adjoining building, the cool shade and the beautiful view of the ruined Abbey beyond, made an impression which I can never forget. Among such scenes one learns why the English love so heartily their rural life, and why every object peculiar to it has brought forth a picture or a poem. I can imagine how many a man, who has never known what poetry was at home, has wept with yearning inexpressible, when sitting among burning sands and under the palms of the East, for such scenes as these.

But Netley Abbey is close by the river Wey, and the sight of that river and the thought of the story of the monks of the olden time who dwelt in the Abbey drive away sentiment as suddenly as a north wind scatters sea-fogs. For the legend is a merry one, and the reader may have heard it; but if he has not I will give it in one of the merriest ballads ever written. By whom I know not,—doubtless many know. I sing, while walking, songs of olden time.



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

To the sweet nuns of Ockham devoting their cares, They had little time for their beads and their prayers; For the love of these maidens they sighed night and day, And neglected devotion, these monks of the Wey.

And happy i' faith might these brothers have been If the river had never been rolling between The abbey so grand and the convent so gray, That stood on the opposite side of the Wey.

For daily they sighed, and then nightly they pined But little to anchorite precepts inclined, So smitten with beauty's enchantments were they, These rollicking, frolicking monks of the Wey.

But scandal was rife in the country near, They dared not row over the river for fear; And no more could they swim it, so fat were they, These oily and amorous monks of the Wey.

Loudly they groaned for their fate so hard, From the love of these beautiful maidens debarred, Till a brother just hit on a plan which would stay The woe of these heart-broken monks of the Wey.

"Nothing," quoth he, "should true love sunder; Since we cannot go over, then let us go under! Boats and bridges shall yield to clay, We'll dig a long tunnel clean under the Wey."

So to it they went with right good will, With spade and shovel and pike and bill; And from evening's close till the dawn of day They worked like miners all under the Wey.

And at vesper hour, as their work begun, Each sung of the charms of his favorite nun; "How surprised they will be, and how happy!" said they, "When we pop in upon them from under the Wey!"

And for months they kept grubbing and making no sound Like other black moles, darkly under the ground; And no one suspected such going astray, So sly were these mischievous monks of the Wey.

At last their fine work was brought near to a close And early one morn from their pallets they rose, And met in their tunnel with lights to survey If they'd scooped a free passage right under the Wey.

But alas for their fate! As they smirked and they smiled. To think how completely the world was beguiled, The river broke in, and it grieves me to say It drowned all the frolicksome monks of the Wey.

* * * * *

O churchmen beware of the lures of the flesh, The net of the devil has many a mesh! And remember whenever you're tempted to stray, The fate that befell the poor monks of the Wey.

It was all long ago, and now there are neither monks nor nuns; the convent has been converted, little by little, age by age, into cottages, even as the friars and nuns themselves may have been organically changed possibly into violets, but more probably into the festive sparrows which flit and hop and flirt about the ruins with abrupt startles, like pheasants sudden bursting on the wing. There is a pretty little Latin epigram, written by a gay monk, of a pretty little lady, who, being very amorous, and observing that sparrows were like her as to love, hoped that she might be turned into one after death; and it is not difficult for a dreamer in an old abbey, of a golden day to fancy that these merry, saucy birdies, who dart and dip in and out of the sunshine or shadow, chirping their shameless ditties pro et con, were once the human dwellers in the spot, who sang their gaudrioles to pleasant strains.

I became familiar with many such scenes for many miles about Oatlands, not merely during solitary walks, but by availing myself of the kind invitations of many friends, and by hunting afoot with the beagles. In this fashion one has hare and hound, but no horse. It is not needed, for while going over crisp stubble and velvet turf, climbing fences and jumping ditches, a man has a keen sense of being his own horse, and when he accomplishes a good leap of being intrinsically well worth 200 pounds. And indeed, so long as anybody can walk day in and out a greater distance than would tire a horse, he may well believe he is really worth one. It may be a good thing for us to reflect on the fact that if slavery prevailed at the present day as it did among the polished Greeks the average price of young gentlemen, and even of young ladies, would not be more than what is paid for a good hunter. Divested of diamonds and of Worth's dresses, what would a girl of average charms be worth to a stranger? Let us reflect!

It was an October morning, and, pausing after a run, I let the pack and the "course-men" sweep away, while I sat in a pleasant spot to enjoy the air and scenery. The solemn grandeur of groves and the quiet dignity of woodland glades, barred with rays of solid-seeming sunshine, such as the saint of old hung his cloak on, the brook into which the overhanging chestnuts drop, as if in sport, their creamy golden little boats of leaves, never seem so beautiful or impressive as immediately after a rush and cry of many men, succeeded by solitude and silence. Little by little the bay of the hounds, the shouts of the hunters, and the occasional sound of the horn grew fainter; the birds once more appeared, and sent forth short calls to their timid friends. I began again to notice who my neighbors were, as to daisies and heather which resided around the stone on which I sat, and the exclusive circle of a fairy-ring at a little distance, which, like many exclusive circles, consisted entirely of mushrooms.

As the beagle-sound died away, and while the hounds were "working around" to the road, I heard footsteps approaching, and looking up saw before me a gypsy woman and a boy. She was a very gypsy woman, an ideal witch, nut-brown, tangle-haired, aquiline of nose, and fierce-eyed; and fiercely did she beg! As amid broken Gothic ruins, overhung with unkempt ivy, one can trace a vanished and strange beauty, so in this worn face of the Romany, mantled by neglected tresses, I could see the remains of what must have been once a wonderful though wild loveliness. As I looked into those serpent eyes; trained for a long life to fascinate in fortune-telling simple dove-girls, I could readily understand the implicit faith with which many writers in the olden time spoke of the "fascination" peculiar to female glances. "The multiplication of women," said the rabbis, "is the increase of witches," for the belles in Israel were killing girls, with arrows, the bows whereof are formed by pairs of jet-black eyebrows joined in one. And thus it was that these black-eyed beauties, by mashing {108} men for many generations, with shafts shot sideways and most wantonly, at last sealed their souls into the corner of their eyes, as you have heard before. Cotton Mather tells us that these witches with peaked eye-corners could never weep but three tears out of their long-tailed eyes. And I have observed that such tears, as they sweep down the cheeks of the brunette witches, are also long-tailed, and recall by their shape and glitter the eyes from which they fell, even as the daughter recalls the mother. For all love's witchcraft lurks in flashing eyes,—lontan del occhio lontan dal' cuor.

It is a great pity that the pigeon-eye-peaks, so pretty in young witches, become in the old ones crow's-feet and crafty. When I greeted the woman, she answered in Romany, and said she was a Stanley from the North. She lied bravely, and I told her so. It made no difference in any way, nor was she hurt. The brown boy, who seemed like a goblin, umber-colored fungus, growing by a snaky black wild vine, sat by her and stared at me. I was pleased, when he said tober, that she corrected him, exclaiming earnestly, "Never say tober for road; that is canting. Always say drom; that is good Romanes." There is always a way of bringing up a child in the way he should go,—though it be a gypsy one,—and drom comes from the Greek dromos, which is elegant and classical. Then she began to beg again, to pass the time, and I lectured her severely on the sin and meanness of her conduct, and said, with bitterness, "Do dogs eat dogs, or are all the Gorgios dead in the land, that you cry for money to me? Oh, you are a fine Stanley! a nice Beshaley you, to sing mumpin and mongerin, when a half-blood Matthews has too much decency to trouble the rye! And how much will you take? Whatever the gentleman pleases, and thank you, my kind sir, and the blessings of the poor gypsy woman on you. Yes, I know that, givelli, you mother of all the liars. You expect a sixpence, and here it is, and may you get drunk on the money, and be well thrashed by your man for it. And now see what I had in my hand all the time to give you. A lucky half crown, my deary; but that's not for you now. I only give a sixpence to a beggar, but I stand a pash-korauna to any Romany who's a pal and amal."

This pleasing discourse made us very good friends, and, as I kept my eyes sharply fixed on her viper orbs with an air of intense suspicion, everything like ill-feeling or distrust naturally vanished from her mind; for it is of the nature of the Romanys and all their kind to like those whom they respect, and respect those whom they cannot deceive, and to measure mankind exactly by their capacity of being taken in, especially by themselves. As is also the case, in good society, with many ladies and some gentlemen,—and much good may it do them!

There was a brief silence, during which the boy still looked wistfully into my face, as if wondering what kind of gentleman I might be, until his mother said,—

"How do you do with them ryas [swells]? What do you tell 'em—about—what do they think—you know?"

This was not explicit, but I understood it perfectly. There is a great deal of such loose, disjointed conversation among gypsies and other half-thinkers. An educated man requires, or pretends to himself to require, a most accurately-detailed and form-polished statement of anything to understand it. The gypsy is less exacting. I have observed among rural Americans much of this lottery style of conversation, in which one man invests in a dubious question, not knowing exactly what sort of a prize or blank answer he may draw. What the gypsy meant effectively was, "How do you account to the Gorgios for knowing so much about us, and talking with us? Our life is as different from yours as possible, and you never acquired such a knowledge of all our tricky ways as you have just shown without much experience of us and a double life. You are related to us in some way, and you deceive the Gorgios about it. What is your little game of life, on general principles?"

For the gypsy is so little accustomed to having any congenial interest taken in him that he can clearly explain it only by consanguinity. And as I was questioned, so I answered,—

"Well, I tell them I like to learn languages, and am trying to learn yours; and then I'm a foreigner in the country, anyhow, and they don't know my droms [ways], and they don't care much what I do,—don't you see?"

This was perfectly satisfactory, and as the hounds came sweeping round the corner of the wood she rose and went her way, and I saw her growing less and less along the winding road and up the hill, till she disappeared, with her boy, in a small ale-house. "Bang went the sixpence."

When the last red light was in the west I went down to the river, and as I paused, and looked alternately at the stars reflected and flickering in the water and at the lights in the little gypsy camp, I thought that as the dancing, restless, and broken sparkles were to their serene types above, such were the wandering and wild Romany to the men of culture in their settled homes. It is from the house-dweller that the men of the roads and commons draw the elements of their life, but in that life they are as shaken and confused as the starlight in the rippling river. But if we look through our own life we find that it is not the gypsy alone who is merely a reflection and an imitation of the stars above him, and a creature of second-hand fashion.

I found in the camp an old acquaintance, named Brown, and also perceived at the first greeting that the woman Stanley had told Mrs. Brown that I would not be mongerdo, or begged from, and that the latter, proud of her power in extortion, and as yet invincible in mendicancy, had boasted that she would succeed, let others weakly fail. And to lose no time she went at me with an abruptness and dramatic earnestness which promptly betrayed the secret. And on the spot I made a vow that nothing should get a farthing from me, though I should be drawn by wild horses. And a horse was, indeed, brought into requisition to draw me, or my money, but without success; for Mr. Brown, as I very well knew,—it being just then the current topic in the best society on the road,—had very recently been involved in a tangled trouble with a stolen horse. This horse had been figuratively laid at his door, even as a "love-babe" is sometimes placed on the front steps of a virtuous and grave citizen,—at least, this is what White George averred,—and his very innocence and purity had, like a shining mark, attracted the shafts of the wicked. He had come out unscathed, with a package of papers from a lawyer, which established his character above par; but all this had cost money, beautiful golden money, and brought him to the very brink of ruin! Mrs. Brown's attack was a desperate and determined effort, and there was more at stake on its success than the reader may surmise. Among gypsy women skill in begging implies the possession of every talent which they most esteem, such as artfulness, cool effrontery, and the power of moving pity or provoking generosity by pique or humor. A quaint and racy book might be written, should it only set forth the manner in which the experienced matrons give straight-tips or suggestions to the maidens as to the manner and lore of begging; and it is something worth hearing when several sit together and devise dodges, and tell anecdotes illustrating the noble art of mendicity, and how it should be properly practiced.

Mrs. Brown knew that to extort alms from me would place her on the pinnacle as an artist. Among all the Cooper clan, to which she was allied, there was not one who ever begged from me, they having all found that the ripest nuts are those which fall from the tree of their own accord, or are blown earthward by the soft breezes of benevolence, and not those which are violently beaten down. She began by pitiful appeals; she was moving, but I did not budge. She grew pathetic; she touched on the stolen horse; she paused, and gushed almost to tears, as much as to say, If it must be, you shall know all. Ruin stared them in the face; poverty was crushing them. It was well acted,—rather in the Bernhardt style, which, if M. Ondit speaks the truth, is also employed rather extensively for acquiring "de monish." I looked at the van, of which the Browns are proud, and inquired if it were true that it had been insured for a hundred pounds, as George had recently boasted. Persuasion having failed, Mrs. Brown tried bold defiance, saying that they needed no company who were no good to them, and plainly said to me I might be gone. It was her last card, thinking that a threat to dissolve our acquaintance would drive me to capitulate, and it failed. I laughed, went into the van, sat down, took out my brandy flask, and then accepted some bread and ale, and, to please them, read aloud all the papers acquitting George from all guilt as concerned the stolen horse,—papers which, he declared, had cost him full five pounds. This was a sad come-down from the story first told. Then I seriously rated his wife for begging from me. "You know well enough," I said, "that I give all I can spare to your family and your people when they are sick or poor. And here you are, the richest Romanys on the road between Windsor and the Boro Gav, begging a friend, who knows all about you, for money! Now, here is a shilling. Take it. Have half a crown? Two of 'em! No! Oh, you don't want it here in your own house. Well, you have some decency left, and to save your credit I won't make you take it. And you scandalize me, a gentleman and a friend, just to show this tramp of a Stanley juva, who hasn't even got a drag [wagon], that you can beat her a mongerin mandy [begging me]."

Mrs. Brown assented volubly to everything, and all the time I saw in her smiling eyes, ever agreeing to all, and heard from her voluble lips nothing but the lie,—that lie which is the mental action and inmost grain of the Romany, and especially of the diddikai, or half-breed. Anything and everything—trickery, wheedling or bullying, fawning or threatening, smiles, or rage, or tears—for a sixpence. All day long flattering and tricking to tell fortunes or sell trifles, and all life one greasy lie, with ready frowns or smiles: as it was in India in the beginning, as it is in Europe, and as it will be in America, so long as there shall be a rambler on the roads, amen!

Sweet peace again established, Mrs. Brown became herself once more, and acted the hospitable hostess, exactly in the spirit and manner of any woman who has "a home of her own," and a spark of decent feeling in her heart. Like many actors, she was a bad lot on the boards, but a very nice person off them. Here in her rolling home she was neither a beggar nor poor, and she issued her orders grandly. "Boil some tea for the rye—cook some coffee for the rye—wait a few minutes, my darling gentleman, and I'll brile you a steak—or here's a fish, if you'd like it?" But I declined everything except the corner of a loaf and some ale; and all the time a little brown boy, with great black eyes, a perfect Murillo model, sat condensed in wondrous narrow space by the fire, baking small apples between the bars of the grate, and rolling up his orbs at me as if wondering what could have brought me into such a circle,—even as he had done that morning in the greenwood.

Now if the reader would know what the interior of a gypsy van, or "drag," or wardo, is like, he may see it in the following diagram.

[Picture: Interior of gypsy van]

A is the door; B is the bed, or rather two beds, each six feet long, like berths, with a vacant space below; C is a grate cooking-stove; D is a table, which hangs by hinges from the wall; E is a chest of drawers; f and f are two chairs. The general appearance of a well-kept van is that of a state-room. Brown's is a very good van, and quite clean. They are admirably well adapted for slow traveling, and it was in such vans, purchased from gypsies, that Sir Samuel Baker and his wife explored the whole of Cyprus.

Mrs. Brown was proud of her van and of her little treasures. From the great recess under the bed she raked out as a rare curiosity an old Dolly Varden or damasked skirt, not at all worn, quite pretty, and evidently of considerable value to a collector. This had belonged to Mrs. Brown's grandmother, an old gypsy queen. And it may be observed, by the way, that the claims of every Irishman of every degree to be descended from one of the ancient kings of Ireland fade into nothing before those of the gypsy women, all of whom, with rare exception, are the own daughters of royal personages, granddaughterhood being hardly a claim to true nobility. Then the bed itself was exhibited with pride, and the princess sang its praises, till she affirmed that the rye himself did not sleep on a better one, for which George reprimanded her. But she vigorously defended its excellence, and, to please her, I felt it and declared it was indeed much softer than the one I slept on, which was really true,—thank Heaven—and was received as a great compliment, and afterwards proclaimed on the roads even unto the ends of Surrey.

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

"I should think," I said, "that it would be cheaper to buy French baskets of Bulrose [Bulureaux] in Houndsditch, ready made."

"So one would think; but the ranyor [osiers] costs nothin', and so it's all profit, any way."

Then I urged the greater profit of living in America, but both assured me that so long as they could make a good living and be very comfortable, as they considered themselves, in England, it would be nonsense to go to America.

For all things are relative, and many a gypsy whom the begged-from pity sincerely, is as proud and happy in a van as any lord in the land. A very nice, neat young gypsy woman, camped long before just where the Browns were, once said to me, "It isn't having everything fine and stylish that makes you happy. Now we've got a van, and have everything so elegant and comfortable, and sleep warm as anybody; and yet I often say to my husband that we used to be happier when we used to sleep under a hedge with, may be, only a thin blanket, and wake up covered with snow." Now this woman had only a wretched wagon, and was always tramping in the rain, or cowering in a smoky, ragged tent and sitting on the ground, but she had food, fire, and fun, with warm clothes, and believed herself happy. Truly, she had better reason to think so than any old maid with a heart run to waste on church gossip, or the latest engagements and marriages; for it is better to be a street-boy in a corner with a crust than one who, without it, discusses, in starvation, with his friend the sausages and turtle-soup in a cook-shop window, between which and themselves there is a great pane of glass fixed, never to be penetrated.


I never shall forget the sparkling splendor of that frosty morning in December when I went with a younger friend from Oatlands Park for a day's walk. I may have seen at other times, but I do not remember, such winter lace-work as then adorned the hedges. The gossamer spider has within her an inward monitor which tells if the weather will be fine; but it says nothing about sudden changes to keen cold, and the artistic result was that the hedges were hung with thousands of Honiton lamp-mats, instead of the thread fly-catchers which their little artists had intended. And on twigs and dead leaves, grass and rock and wall, were such expenditures of Brussels and Spanish point, such a luxury of real old Venetian run mad, and such deliria of Russian lace as made it evident that Mrs. Jack Frost is a very extravagant fairy, but one gifted with exquisite taste. When I reflect how I have in my time spoken of the taste for lace and diamonds in women as entirely without foundation in nature, I feel that I sinned deeply. For Nature, in this lace-work, displays at times a sympathy with humanity,—especially womanity,—and coquets and flirts with it, as becomes the subject, in a manner which is merrily awful. There was once in Philadelphia a shop the windows of which were always filled with different kinds of the richest and rarest lace, and one cold morning I found that the fairies had covered the panes with literal frost fac-similes of the exquisite wares which hung behind. This was no fancy; the copies were as accurate as photographs. Can it be that in the invisible world there are Female Fairy Schools of Design, whose scholars combine in this graceful style Etching on Glass and Art Needlework?

We were going to the village of Hersham to make a call. It was not at any stylish villa or lordly manor-house,—though I knew of more than one in the vicinity where we would have been welcome,—but at a rather disreputable-looking edifice, which bore on its front the sign of "Lodgings for Travellers." Now "traveller" means, below a certain circle of English life, not the occasional, but the habitual wanderer, or one who dwells upon the roads, and gains his living thereon. I have in my possession several cards of such a house. I found them wrapped in a piece of paper, by a deserted gypsy camp, where they had been lost:—


Good Lodging for Travellers. With a Large Private Kitchen.



The "private kitchen" indicates that the guests will have facilities for doing their own cooking, as all of them bring their own victuals in perpetual picnic. In the inclosure of the house in Hersham, the tops of two or three gypsy vans could always be seen above the high fence, and there was that general air of mystery about the entire establishment which is characteristic of all places haunted by people whose ways are not as our ways, and whose little games are not as our little games. I had become acquainted with it and its proprietor, Mr. Hamilton, in that irregular and only way which is usual with such acquaintances. I was walking by the house one summer day, and stopped to ask my way. A handsome dark-brown girl was busy at the wash-tub, two or three older women were clustered at the gate, and in all their faces was the manner of the diddikai or chureni, or half-blood gypsy. As I spoke I dropped my voice, and said, inquiringly,—


"Yes," was the confidential answer.

They were all astonished, and kept quiet till I had gone a few rods on my way, when the whole party, recovering from their amazement, raised a gentle cheer, expressive of approbation and sympathy. A few days after, walking with a lady in Weybridge, she said to me,—

"Who is that man who looked at you so closely?"

"I do not know."

"That's very strange. I am quite sure I heard him utter two words in a strange language, as you passed, as if he only meant them for you. They sounded like sarshaun baw." Which means, "How are you, sir?" or friend. As we came up the street, I saw the man talking with a well-dressed, sporting-looking man, not quite a gentleman, who sat cheekily in his own jaunty little wagon. As I passed, the one of the wagon said to the other, speaking of me, and in pure Romany, evidently thinking I did not understand,—

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