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Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, [1899], at

The Chaltsmide.

In a free metrical paraphrase of Genesis, made in German about or before the year 1122 by an Austrian monk, and cited by Freytag in Bilder aus der deutschen Vergangenheit (1859, 226), occurs this passage:--'So she [Hagar] had this child, they named him Ishmael. From him are descended the Ishmaelitish folk. They journey far through the world. We call them chaltsmide [mod. Ger. kaltschmiede, 'workers in cold metal ']. Out upon their life and their manners! For whatever they have to sell is never without a defect; whenever he buys anything, good or bad, he always wants something in; he never abates on what he sells himself. They have neither house nor country; every place is the same to them. They roam about the land, and abuse the people by their knaveries. It is thus they deceive folk, robbing no one openly.' That here, by chaltsmide, Ishmaelites, and descendants of Hagar Gypsies were meant, can scarcely admit of doubt. The smith's is still the Gypsies' leading handicraft; Lusignan in 1573 says of the Gypsies of Cyprus, 1 'Les Cinquanes sont peuple d’Egypte dits autrement Agariens'; Agareni is one of the numberless names applied to the Gypsies by Fritschius in 1664; and in German and in Danish thieves' slang Geshmeilim and Smaelem (Ishmaelites) are terms for Gypsies at the present day. One fancies that Austrian monk had somehow been 'done' by the Chaltsmide.


xxii:1 Of the Gypsies of Cyprus, as indeed those of Crete, Modern Greece, Lesbos, etc., we know practically nil. A writer in the Saturday Review for 12th January 1878, p. 52, quoted, without giving date or source, these words of a Cretan poet:--'Franks and Saracens, Corsairs and Germans, Turks and Atzingani, they have tried them all, and cannot say who were better, who worse.'

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