Sacred Texts  Legends/Sagas  Roma  Index  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

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

Gypsy savagery.

It is an interesting, the most interesting theory; still I cannot forbear pointing out that many of Mr. Lang's survivals of dead Teutonic savagery are living realities in Gypsy tents. Matty Cooper, discoursing to his 'dear little wooden bear,' and offering it beer to drink; 'Gypsy Mary,' who 'washed herself away from God Almighty'; Riley Smith and Emily Pinfold,

p. lxxiii

who both 'sold their blood to the Devil'; Mrs. Draper, who vowed that, sooner than touch beer or spirits, she would go to Loughton churchyard, and drink the blood of her dead son lying there; Riley Bosville with his two wives, and old Charles Pinfold with his three; Lementina Lovell, who heard the fairy music; her grandson, Dimiti, who lay awake once in Snaky Lane, and watched the little fairies in the oak-tree; and Ernest Smith (1871-98), who one July night in the grounds of the Edinburgh Electrical Exhibition of 1890 saw 'two dear little teeny people, about two feet high, and he upp’d and flung stones at ’em'--I myself have known eight of these Gypsies, and kinsfolk of the two others. It is not sixteen years since an English Gypsy girl, to work her vengeance on her false Gentile lover, cut the heart out of a living white pigeon, and flung the poor bird, yet struggling, on the fire. It is barely fifty years since old Mrs. Smith was buried at Troston, near Ixworth, after travelling East Anglia for half a century with a sparrow, which, like the raven in Grimm's story, told her all manner of secrets. (Cf. Mr. Lang's '4. Savage idea.--Animals help favoured men and women.) Then, there is the Gypsy system of tabu, by which wife and child renounce for ever the favourite food or drink of the dead husband or father, or the name of the deceased is dropped clean out of use, any survivors who happen to bear it adopting another. There is the belief in the evil eye; there are caste-like rules of ceremonial purity; and on the Continent there is, or was lately, actual idolatry--tree-worship among German Gypsies, and the worship of the moon-god, Alako, among their brethren of Scandinavia.

Next: Cannibalism