Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, , at sacred-texts.com
[paragraph continues] But the case is quite otherwise with the Caldarari, or coppersmiths, of Hungary, for they will wander forth north, south, east, west, and sometimes stay away a whole seven years. Myself I have met with Caldarari but once, at Halle, in 1875; I described that brief meeting thus in my Gypsy Tents (1880, pp. 43-44):--
'I had been paying my first call to Professor Pott, who had told me that only once had he spoken with living Gypsies, somewhere near London. So I asked him did they never come to Halle, and he answered, No; and presently I came away. I was not two hundred yards from his doorstep, when I saw a curious sort of skeleton waggon, drawn. by two little horses, with their forelegs shackled together. On the top of this waggon sat a woman smoking a big black pipe; and round it three or four children were playing, stark-naked. The waggon was standing outside an inn; and entering the inn, I found two Gypsy men seated at the table, eating soup and drinking beer. I greeted them with "Látcho dívvus" (Good-day), and they seemed not the least bit surprised, for these were travelled gentlemen. Three years they had been away from Hungary, in France and Germany; and they could both speak French and German fluently. We talked of many things, and compared, I remember, passports: mine they pronounced an exceeding shúkar lil (fine document), the lion and unicorn seeming to take their fancy. Every place they came to, they had to go first thing to the head policeman and show their passes, and then he told them where they were to stop. They were allowed three days in every place, and no one could meddle with them all that time. . . . The women came in, two of them, and some of the children. There was one, a little fellow of nine or ten, as brown and pretty a thing as ever I saw, but wild as a fox-cub. His father gave him a plate of soup to finish, and he lapped it up just as a fox-cub would, looking out at me now and again from behind his mother. Then they paid their reckoning, the women climbed up on the waggon, the children shouted, and the men cracked their whips. "God go with thee, brother"; and so we parted.'
There is not much in that, but one cannot learn much in half an hour's chance interview. Nor, indeed, is there very much in all the scattered notes that I have been able thus far to collect respecting the Caldarari; some of those notes relate to them only conjecturally. Du Cange's definition of komodromoi proves that
coppersmiths roamed through France in 1688; and it is at least highly probable that to this caste belonged the band of forty Gypsies with whom, in the spring of 1604, Jacques Callot, a boy of twelve, wandered from Nancy to Florence. Of the journey itself we know nothing, but he has left an imperishable record of it in his three matchless engravings of the 'Bohémiens,' which show them on the march, in their bivouac, and spoiling the Gentiles. Charles Reade worked a clever description of Callot's engravings into his Cloister and the Hearth, and they were admirably reproduced in the Gypsy Lore Journal for January 1890, with a long article on them by Mr. David MacRitchie.
In his Travels (1763, ü. 157-8), under the date 1721, John Bell of Antermony has the following passage:--'During our stay at Tobolsky, I was informed, that a large troop of gipsies had been lately at that place, to the number of sixty and upwards, consisting of men, women, and children. The Russians call these vagabonds tziggany. Their sorry baggage was carried on horses and asses. The arrival of so many strangers being reported to Mr. Petroff Solovoy, the vice-governor, he sent for some of the chief of the gang, and demanded whither they were going? they answered him, to China; upon which he told them he could not permit them to proceed any farther eastward, as they had no passport; and ordered them to return to the place whence they came. It seems these people had roamed, in small parties, during the summer season, cross the vast countries between Poland and this place; subsisting themselves on what they could find, and on selling trinkets, and telling fortunes to the country people. But Tobolsky, being the place of rendezvous, was the end of their long journey eastwards; and they, with no small regret, were obliged to turn their faces to the west again.' I fancy these Gypsies also must have been Caldarari. But whether they were or no, the passage remains one of the most curious that we have relating to Gypsy migrations. Taken in its most limited sense, it shows that the band had wandered in small detachments from Poland to Tobolsk, a distance of two thousand miles or upwards. But it suggests a great deal more than this. There seems no reason to question the statement that China was really the ultimate goal of their wanderings. If so, it is probable that they were following in the track of former migrations, that Gypsies had been in the habit of passing backwards and forwards between Europe and China, which opens up a vista of a possible connection between the West and the farthest East undreamed of by all our geographers. But without further evidence this must be mere conjecture. Of Gypsies in China I know nothing
whatever, except that a Russian noble, Prince Galitzin, whom I met three years since in Edinburgh; assured me he had seen a number of them there. Physique, outward appearance, seemed his only test; and his statement, though interesting, needs corroboration.
The Weserzeitung of 25th April 1851 announced that one hundred Gypsies had passed through Frankfort, on their way from Hungary to Algeria; and in the Revue de l’Orient for 29th January 1889 Madame Marlet thus described her meeting with a Hungarian Gypsy in North Africa:--'I shall ever remember a scene which I witnessed in Africa. It was one evening at the base of the superb mountains of Mustapha Supérieur, just as the setting sun flooded the plain with his last rays of golden and crimson light--the gold and purple of the incomparable majesty of the Eastern sky. I observed a caravan of nomads encamped in the plain beneath their tents. I drew near, and saw that they were Gypsies, but Gypsies who had dwelt under other skies. Some were Spanish Gitanos, with garments of many hues, their shears hanging by their sides, at the end of a silvered chain wound around their blades; the others came from Morocco, and wore the simple white attire of the Children of the Desert. They received me with indifference. By means of my knowledge of Italian I managed at length to make the Gitanos understand that I came from Hungary. They were at once alive with interest. "Hungaria!" I heard them whisper into one another's ears; and finally an old Gypsy man informed me, "There is one of us who comes straight from that very country." They ran all at once to seek him out. But the young Gypsy--a superb, swarthy figure--quite unmoved, maintained a proud and gloomy silence. Did he suspect me of untruth in telling him that I knew that Hungary, so far away beyond the wide stretch of sea? He may have thought so. However, I saw that the old Gitano had told the truth. The dress of the young nomad was entirely Hungarian, from his shining boots up to his little Magyar calpate. His attire generally was rather rich than poor. Had I conversed with him in Hungarian, perhaps his heart would have softened. But he remained thus, sombre and mistrustful, and only the Gitanos, who, in their fantastic rags, stood around us, repeated vivaciously in Spanish, as they pointed towards him, "Patria Hungaria!"'