The Zincali - An Account of the Gypsies of Spain
by George Borrow
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Whilst at Seville, chance made us acquainted with a highly extraordinary individual, a tall, bony, meagre figure, in a tattered Andalusian hat, ragged capote, and still more ragged pantaloons, and seemingly between forty and fifty years of age. The only appellation to which he answered was Manuel. His occupation, at the time we knew him, was selling tickets for the lottery, by which he obtained a miserable livelihood in Seville and the neighbouring villages. His appearance was altogether wild and uncouth, and there was an insane expression in his eye. Observing us one day in conversation with a Gitana, he addressed us, and we soon found that the sound of the Gitano language had struck a chord which vibrated through the depths of his soul. His history was remarkable; in his early youth a manuscript copy of the compilation of Luis Lobo had fallen into his hands. This book had so taken hold of his imagination, that he studied it night and day until he had planted it in his memory from beginning to end; but in so doing, his brain, like that of the hero of Cervantes, had become dry and heated, so that he was unfitted for any serious or useful occupation. After the death of his parents he wandered about the streets in great distress, until at last he fell into the hands of certain toreros, or bull-fighters, who kept him about them, in order that he might repeat to them the songs of the AFICION. They subsequently carried him to Madrid, where, however, they soon deserted him after he had experienced much brutality from their hands. He returned to Seville, and soon became the inmate of a madhouse, where he continued several years. Having partially recovered from his malady, he was liberated, and wandered about as before. During the cholera at Seville, when nearly twenty thousand human beings perished, he was appointed conductor of one of the death-carts, which went through the streets for the purpose of picking up the dead bodies. His perfect inoffensiveness eventually procured him friends, and he obtained the situation of vendor of lottery tickets. He frequently visited us, and would then recite long passages from the work of Lobo. He was wont to say that he was the only one in Seville, at the present day, acquainted with the language of the Aficion; for though there were many pretenders, their knowledge was confined to a few words.

From the recitation of this individual, we wrote down the Brijindope, or Deluge, and the poem on the plague which broke out in Seville in the year 1800. These and some songs of less consequence, constitute the poetical part of the compilation in question; the rest, which is in prose, consisting chiefly of translations from the Spanish, of proverbs and religious pieces.


I with fear and terror quake, Whilst the pen to write I take; I will utter many a pray'r To the heaven's Regent fair, That she deign to succour me, And I'll humbly bend my knee; For but poorly do I know With my subject on to go; Therefore is my wisest plan Not to trust in strength of man. I my heavy sins bewail, Whilst I view the wo and wail Handed down so solemnly In the book of times gone by. Onward, onward, now I'll move In the name of Christ above, And his Mother true and dear, She who loves the wretch to cheer. All I know, and all I've heard I will state - how God appear'd And to Noah thus did cry: Weary with the world am I; Let an ark by thee be built, For the world is lost in guilt; And when thou hast built it well, Loud proclaim what now I tell: Straight repent ye, for your Lord In his hand doth hold a sword. And good Noah thus did call: Straight repent ye one and all, For the world with grief I see Lost in vileness utterly. God's own mandate I but do, He hath sent me unto you. Laugh'd the world to bitter scorn, I his cruel sufferings mourn; Brawny youths with furious air Drag the Patriarch by the hair; Lewdness governs every one: Leaves her convent now the nun, And the monk abroad I see Practising iniquity. Now I'll tell how God, intent To avenge, a vapour sent, With full many a dreadful sign - Mighty, mighty fear is mine: As I hear the thunders roll, Seems to die my very soul; As I see the world o'erspread All with darkness thick and dread; I the pen can scarcely ply For the tears which dim my eye, And o'ercome with grievous wo, Fear the task I must forego I have purposed to perform. - Hark, I hear upon the storm Thousand, thousand devils fly, Who with awful howlings cry: Now's the time and now's the hour, We have licence, we have power To obtain a glorious prey. - I with horror turn away; Tumbles house and tumbles wall; Thousands lose their lives and all, Voiding curses, screams and groans, For the beams, the bricks and stones Bruise and bury all below - Nor is that the worst, I trow, For the clouds begin to pour Floods of water more and more, Down upon the world with might, Never pausing day or night. Now in terrible distress All to God their cries address, And his Mother dear adore, - But the time of grace is o'er, For the Almighty in the sky Holds his hand upraised on high. Now's the time of madden'd rout, Hideous cry, despairing shout; Whither, whither shall they fly? For the danger threat'ningly Draweth near on every side, And the earth, that's opening wide, Swallows thousands in its womb, Who would 'scape the dreadful doom. Of dear hope exists no gleam, Still the water down doth stream; Ne'er so little a creeping thing But from out its hold doth spring: See the mouse, and see its mate Scour along, nor stop, nor wait; See the serpent and the snake For the nearest highlands make; The tarantula I view, Emmet small and cricket too, All unknowing where to fly, In the stifling waters die. See the goat and bleating sheep, See the bull with bellowings deep. And the rat with squealings shrill, They have mounted on the hill: See the stag, and see the doe, How together fond they go; Lion, tiger-beast, and pard, To escape are striving hard: Followed by her little ones, See the hare how swift she runs: Asses, he and she, a pair. Mute and mule with bray and blare, And the rabbit and the fox, Hurry over stones and rocks, With the grunting hog and horse, Till at last they stop their course - On the summit of the hill All assembled stand they still; In the second part I'll tell Unto them what there befell.


When I last did bid farewell, I proposed the world to tell, Higher as the Deluge flow'd, How the frog and how the toad, With the lizard and the eft, All their holes and coverts left, And assembled on the height; Soon I ween appeared in sight All that's wings beneath the sky, Bat and swallow, wasp and fly, Gnat and sparrow, and behind Comes the crow of carrion kind; Dove and pigeon are descried, And the raven fiery-eyed, With the beetle and the crane Flying on the hurricane: See they find no resting-place, For the world's terrestrial space Is with water cover'd o'er, Soon they sink to rise no more: 'To our father let us flee!' Straight the ark-ship openeth he, And to everything that lives Kindly he admission gives. Of all kinds a single pair, And the members safely there Of his house he doth embark, Then at once he shuts the ark; Everything therein has pass'd, There he keeps them safe and fast. O'er the mountain's topmost peak Now the raging waters break. Till full twenty days are o'er, 'Midst the elemental roar, Up and down the ark forlorn, Like some evil thing is borne: O what grief it is to see Swimming on the enormous sea Human corses pale and white, More, alas! than I can write: O what grief, what grief profound, But to think the world is drown'd: True a scanty few are left, All are not of life bereft, So that, when the Lord ordain, They may procreate again, In a world entirely new, Better people and more true, To their Maker who shall bow; And I humbly beg you now, Ye in modern times who wend, That your lives ye do amend; For no wat'ry punishment, But a heavier shall be sent; For the blessed saints pretend That the latter world shall end To tremendous fire a prey, And to ashes sink away. To the Ark I now go back, Which pursues its dreary track, Lost and 'wilder'd till the Lord In his mercy rest accord. Early of a morning tide They unclosed a window wide, Heaven's beacon to descry, And a gentle dove let fly, Of the world to seek some trace, And in two short hours' space It returns with eyes that glow, In its beak an olive bough. With a loud and mighty sound, They exclaim: 'The world we've found.' To a mountain nigh they drew, And when there themselves they view, Bound they swiftly on the shore, And their fervent thanks outpour, Lowly kneeling to their God; Then their way a couple trod, Man and woman, hand in hand, Bent to populate the land, To the Moorish region fair - And another two repair To the country of the Gaul; In this manner wend they all, And the seeds of nations lay. I beseech ye'll credence pay, For our father, high and sage, Wrote the tale in sacred page, As a record to the world, Record sad of vengeance hurl'd. I, a low and humble wight, Beg permission now to write Unto all that in our land Tongue Egyptian understand. May our Virgin Mother mild Grant to me, her erring child, Plenteous grace in every way, And success. Amen I say.


I'm resolved now to tell In the speech of Gypsy-land All the horror that befell In this city huge and grand.

In the eighteenth hundred year In the midst of summertide, God, with man dissatisfied, His right hand on high did rear, With a rigour most severe; Whence we well might understand He would strict account demand Of our lives and actions here. The dread event to render clear Now the pen I take in hand.

At the dread event aghast, Straight the world reform'd its course; Yet is sin in greater force, Now the punishment is past; For the thought of God is cast All and utterly aside, As if death itself had died. Therefore to the present race These memorial lines I trace In old Egypt's tongue of pride.

As the streets you wander'd through How you quail'd with fear and dread, Heaps of dying and of dead At the leeches' door to view. To the tavern O how few To regale on wine repair; All a sickly aspect wear. Say what heart such sights could brook - Wail and woe where'er you look - Wail and woe and ghastly care.

Plying fast their rosaries, See the people pace the street, And for pardon God entreat Long and loud with streaming eyes. And the carts of various size, Piled with corses, high in air, To the plain their burden bear. O what grief it is to me Not a friar or priest to see In this city huge and fair.


'I am not very willing that any language should be totally extinguished; the similitude and derivation of languages afford the most indubitable proof of the traduction of nations, and the genealogy of mankind; they add often physical certainty to historical evidence of ancient migrations, and of the revolutions of ages which left no written monuments behind them.' - JOHNSON.

THE Gypsy dialect of Spain is at present very much shattered and broken, being rather the fragments of the language which the Gypsies brought with them from the remote regions of the East than the language itself: it enables, however, in its actual state, the Gitanos to hold conversation amongst themselves, the import of which is quite dark and mysterious to those who are not of their race, or by some means have become acquainted with their vocabulary. The relics of this tongue, singularly curious in themselves, must be ever particularly interesting to the philological antiquarian, inasmuch as they enable him to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion respecting the origin of the Gypsy race. During the later part of the last century, the curiosity of some learned individuals, particularly Grellmann, Richardson, and Marsden, induced them to collect many words of the Romanian language, as spoken in Germany, Hungary, and England, which, upon analysing, they discovered to be in general either pure Sanscrit or Hindustani words, or modifications thereof; these investigations have been continued to the present time by men of equal curiosity and no less erudition, the result of which has been the establishment of the fact, that the Gypsies of those countries are the descendants of a tribe of Hindus who for some particular reason had abandoned their native country. In England, of late, the Gypsies have excited particular attention; but a desire far more noble and laudable than mere antiquarian curiosity has given rise to it, namely, the desire of propagating the glory of Christ amongst those who know Him not, and of saving souls from the jaws of the infernal wolf. It is, however, with the Gypsies of Spain, and not with those of England and other countries, that we are now occupied, and we shall merely mention the latter so far as they may serve to elucidate the case of the Gitanos, their brethren by blood and language. Spain for many centuries has been the country of error; she has mistaken stern and savage tyranny for rational government; base, low, and grovelling superstition for clear, bright, and soul-ennobling religion; sordid cheating she has considered as the path to riches; vexatious persecution as the path to power; and the consequence has been, that she is now poor and powerless, a pagan amongst the pagans, with a dozen kings, and with none. Can we be surprised, therefore, that, mistaken in policy, religion, and moral conduct, she should have fallen into error on points so naturally dark and mysterious as the history and origin of those remarkable people whom for the last four hundred years she has supported under the name of Gitanos? The idea entertained at the present day in Spain respecting this race is, that they are the descendants of the Moriscos who remained in Spain, wandering about amongst the mountains and wildernesses, after the expulsion of the great body of the nation from the country in the time of Philip the Third, and that they form a distinct body, entirely unconnected with the wandering tribes known in other countries by the names of Bohemians, Gypsies, etc. This, like all unfounded opinions, of course originated in ignorance, which is always ready to have recourse to conjecture and guesswork, in preference to travelling through the long, mountainous, and stony road of patient investigation; it is, however, an error far more absurd and more destitute of tenable grounds than the ancient belief that the Gitanos were Egyptians, which they themselves have always professed to be, and which the original written documents which they brought with them on their first arrival in Western Europe, and which bore the signature of the king of Bohemia, expressly stated them to be. The only clue to arrive at any certainty respecting their origin, is the language which they still speak amongst themselves; but before we can avail ourselves of the evidence of this language, it will be necessary to make a few remarks respecting the principal languages and dialects of that immense tract of country, peopled by at least eighty millions of human beings, generally known by the name of Hindustan, two Persian words tantamount to the land of Ind, or, the land watered by the river Indus.

The most celebrated of these languages is the Sanskrida, or, as it is known in Europe, the Sanscrit, which is the language of religion of all those nations amongst whom the faith of Brahma has been adopted; but though the language of religion, by which we mean the tongue in which the religious books of the Brahmanic sect were originally written and are still preserved, it has long since ceased to be a spoken language; indeed, history is silent as to any period when it was a language in common use amongst any of the various tribes of the Hindus; its knowledge, as far as reading and writing it went, having been entirely confined to the priests of Brahma, or Brahmans, until within the last half-century, when the British, having subjugated the whole of Hindustan, caused it to be openly taught in the colleges which they established for the instruction of their youth in the languages of the country. Though sufficiently difficult to acquire, principally on account of its prodigious richness in synonyms, it is no longer a sealed language, - its laws, structure, and vocabulary being sufficiently well known by means of numerous elementary works, adapted to facilitate its study. It has been considered by famous philologists as the mother not only of all the languages of Asia, but of all others in the world. So wild and preposterous an idea, however, only serves to prove that a devotion to philology, whose principal object should be the expansion of the mind by the various treasures of learning and wisdom which it can unlock, sometimes only tends to its bewilderment, by causing it to embrace shadows for reality. The most that can be allowed, in reason, to the Sanscrit is that it is the mother of a certain class or family of languages, for example, those spoken in Hindustan, with which most of the European, whether of the Sclavonian, Gothic, or Celtic stock, have some connection. True it is that in this case we know not how to dispose of the ancient Zend, the mother of the modern Persian, the language in which were written those writings generally attributed to Zerduscht, or Zoroaster, whose affinity to the said tongues is as easily established as that of the Sanscrit, and which, in respect to antiquity, may well dispute the palm with its Indian rival. Avoiding, however, the discussion of this point, we shall content ourselves with observing, that closely connected with the Sanscrit, if not derived from it, are the Bengali, the high Hindustani, or grand popular language of Hindustan, generally used by the learned in their intercourse and writings, the languages of Multan, Guzerat, and other provinces, without mentioning the mixed dialect called Mongolian Hindustani, a corrupt jargon of Persian, Turkish, Arabic, and Hindu words, first used by the Mongols, after the conquest, in their intercourse with the natives. Many of the principal languages of Asia are totally unconnected with the Sanscrit, both in words and grammatical structure; these are mostly of the great Tartar family, at the head of which there is good reason for placing the Chinese and Tibetian.

Bearing the same analogy to the Sanscrit tongue as the Indian dialects specified above, we find the Rommany, or speech of the Roma, or Zincali, as they style themselves, known in England and Spain as Gypsies and Gitanos. This speech, wherever it is spoken, is, in all principal points, one and the same, though more or less corrupted by foreign words, picked up in the various countries to which those who use it have penetrated. One remarkable feature must not be passed over without notice, namely, the very considerable number of Sclavonic words, which are to be found embedded within it, whether it be spoken in Spain or Germany, in England or Italy; from which circumstance we are led to the conclusion, that these people, in their way from the East, travelled in one large compact body, and that their route lay through some region where the Sclavonian language, or a dialect thereof, was spoken. This region I have no hesitation in asserting to have been Bulgaria, where they probably tarried for a considerable period, as nomad herdsmen, and where numbers of them are still to be found at the present day. Besides the many Sclavonian words in the Gypsy tongue, another curious feature attracts the attention of the philologist - an equal or still greater quantity of terms from the modern Greek; indeed, we have full warranty for assuming that at one period the Spanish section, if not the rest of the Gypsy nation, understood the Greek language well, and that, besides their own Indian dialect, they occasionally used it for considerably upwards of a century subsequent to their arrival, as amongst the Gitanos there were individuals to whom it was intelligible so late as the year 1540.

Where this knowledge was obtained it is difficult to say, - perhaps in Bulgaria, where two-thirds of the population profess the Greek religion, or rather in Romania, where the Romaic is generally understood; that they DID understand the Romaic in 1540, we gather from a very remarkable work, called EL ESTUDIOSO CORTESANO, written by Lorenzo Palmireno: this learned and highly extraordinary individual was by birth a Valencian, and died about 1580; he was professor at various universities - of rhetoric at Valencia, of Greek at Zaragossa, where he gave lectures, in which he explained the verses of Homer; he was a proficient in Greek, ancient and modern, and it should be observed that, in the passage which we are about to cite, he means himself by the learned individual who held conversation with the Gitanos. (66) EL ESTUDIOSO CORTESANO was reprinted at Alcala in 1587, from which edition we now copy.

'Who are the Gitanos? I answer; these vile people first began to show themselves in Germany, in the year 1417, where they call them Tartars or Gentiles; in Italy they are termed Ciani. They pretend that they come from Lower Egypt, and that they wander about as a penance, and to prove this, they show letters from the king of Poland. They lie, however, for they do not lead the life of penitents, but of dogs and thieves. A learned person, in the year 1540, prevailed with them, by dint of much persuasion, to show him the king's letter, and he gathered from it that the time of their penance was already expired; he spoke to them in the Egyptian tongue; they said, however, as it was a long time since their departure from Egypt, they did not understand it; he then spoke to them in the vulgar Greek, such as is used at present in the Morea and Archipelago; SOME UNDERSTOOD IT, others did not; so that as all did not understand it, we may conclude that the language which they use is a feigned one, (67) got up by thieves for the purpose of concealing their robberies, like the jargon of blind beggars.'

Still more abundant, however, than the mixture of Greek, still more abundant than the mixture of Sclavonian, is the alloy in the Gypsy language, wherever spoken, of modern Persian words, which circumstance will compel us to offer a few remarks on the share which the Persian has had in the formation of the dialects of India, as at present spoken.

The modern Persian, as has been already observed, is a daughter of the ancient Zend, and, as such, is entitled to claim affinity with the Sanscrit, and its dialects. With this language none in the world would be able to vie in simplicity and beauty, had not the Persians, in adopting the religion of Mahomet, unfortunately introduces into their speech an infinity of words of the rude coarse language used by the barbaric Arab tribes, the immediate followers of the warlike Prophet. With the rise of Islam the modern Persian was doomed to be carried into India. This country, from the time of Alexander, had enjoyed repose from external aggression, had been ruled by its native princes, and been permitted by Providence to exercise, without control or reproof, the degrading superstitions, and the unnatural and bloody rites of a religion at the formation of which the fiends of cruelty and lust seem to have presided; but reckoning was now about to be demanded of the accursed ministers of this system for the pain, torture, and misery which they had been instrumental in inflicting on their countrymen for the gratification of their avarice, filthy passions, and pride; the new Mahometans were at hand - Arab, Persian, and Afghan, with the glittering scimitar upraised, full of zeal for the glory and adoration of the one high God, and the relentless persecutors of the idol-worshippers. Already, in the four hundred and twenty-sixth year of the Hegeira, we read of the destruction of the great Butkhan, or image-house of Sumnaut, by the armies of the far-conquering Mahmoud, when the dissevered heads of the Brahmans rolled down the steps of the gigantic and Babel-like temple of the great image -

[Text which cannot be reproduced - Arabic?]

(This image grim, whose name was Laut, Bold Mahmoud found when he took Sumnaut.)

It is not our intention to follow the conquests of the Mahometans from the days of Walid and Mahmoud to those of Timour and Nadir; sufficient to observe, that the greatest part of India was subdued, new monarchies established, and the old religion, though far too powerful and widely spread to be extirpated, was to a considerable extent abashed and humbled before the bright rising sun of Islam. The Persian language, which the conquerors (68) of whatever denomination introduced with them to Hindustan, and which their descendants at the present day still retain, though not lords of the ascendant, speedily became widely extended in these regions, where it had previously been unknown. As the language of the court, it was of course studied and acquired by all those natives whose wealth, rank, and influence necessarily brought them into connection with the ruling powers; and as the language of the camp, it was carried into every part of the country where the duties of the soldiery sooner or later conducted them; the result of which relations between the conquerors and conquered was the adoption into the popular dialects of India of an infinity of modern Persian words, not merely those of science, such as it exists in the East, and of luxury and refinement, but even those which serve to express many of the most common objects, necessities, and ideas, so that at the present day a knowledge of the Persian is essential for the thorough understanding of the principal dialects of Hindustan, on which account, as well as for the assistance which it affords in communication with the Mahometans, it is cultivated with peculiar care by the present possessors of the land.

No surprise, therefore, can be entertained that the speech of the Gitanos in general, who, in all probability, departed from Hindustan long subsequent to the first Mahometan invasions, abounds, like other Indian dialects, with words either purely Persian, or slightly modified to accommodate them to the genius of the language. Whether the Rommany originally constituted part of the natives of Multan or Guzerat, and abandoned their native land to escape from the torch and sword of Tamerlane and his Mongols, as Grellmann and others have supposed, or whether, as is much more probable, they were a thievish caste, like some others still to be found in Hindustan, who fled westward, either from the vengeance of justice, or in pursuit of plunder, their speaking Persian is alike satisfactorily accounted for. With the view of exhibiting how closely their language is connected with the Sanscrit and Persian, we subjoin the first ten numerals in the three tongues, those of the Gypsy according to the Hungarian dialect. (69)

Gypsy. Persian. Sanscrit. (70)

1 Jek Ek Ega 2 Dui Du Dvaya 3 Trin Se Treya 4 Schtar Chehar Tschatvar 5 Pansch Pansch Pantscha 6 Tschov Schesche Schasda 7 Efta Heft Sapta 8 Ochto Hescht Aschta 9 Enija Nu Nava 10 Dosch De Dascha

It would be easy for us to adduce a thousand instances, as striking as the above, of the affinity of the Gypsy tongue to the Persian, Sanscrit, and the Indian dialects, but we have not space for further observation on a point which long since has been sufficiently discussed by others endowed with abler pens than our own; but having made these preliminary remarks, which we deemed necessary for the elucidation of the subject, we now hasten to speak of the Gitano language as used in Spain, and to determine, by its evidence (and we again repeat, that the language is the only criterion by which the question can be determined), how far the Gitanos of Spain are entitled to claim connection with the tribes who, under the names of Zingani, etc., are to be found in various parts of Europe, following, in general, a life of wandering adventure, and practising the same kind of thievish arts which enable those in Spain to obtain a livelihood at the expense of the more honest and industrious of the community.

The Gitanos of Spain, as already stated, are generally believed to be the descendants of the Moriscos, and have been asserted to be such in printed books. (71) Now they are known to speak a language or jargon amongst themselves which the other natives of Spain do not understand; of course, then, supposing them to be of Morisco origin, the words of this tongue or jargon, which are not Spanish, are the relics of the Arabic or Moorish tongue once spoken in Spain, which they have inherited from their Moorish ancestors. Now it is well known, that the Moorish of Spain was the same tongue as that spoken at present by the Moors of Barbary, from which country Spain was invaded by the Arabs, and to which they again retired when unable to maintain their ground against the armies of the Christians. We will, therefore, collate the numerals of the Spanish Gitano with those of the Moorish tongue, preceding both with those of the Hungarian Gypsy, of which we have already made use, for the purpose of making clear the affinity of that language to the Sanscrit and Persian. By this collation we shall at once perceive whether the Gitano of Spain bears most resemblance to the Arabic, or the Rommany of other lands.

Hungarian Spanish Moorish Gypsy. Gitano. Arabic.

1 Jek Yeque Wahud 2 Dui Dui Snain 3 Trin Trin Slatza 4 Schtar Estar Arba 5 Pansch Pansche Khamsa 6 Tschov Job. Zoi Seta 7 Efta Hefta Sebea 8 Ochto Otor Sminia 9 Enija Esnia (Nu. PERS.) Tussa 10 Dosch Deque Aschra

We believe the above specimens will go very far to change the opinion of those who have imbibed the idea that the Gitanos of Spain are the descendants of Moors, and are of an origin different from that of the wandering tribes of Rommany in other parts of the world, the specimens of the two dialects of the Gypsy, as far as they go, being so strikingly similar, as to leave no doubt of their original identity, whilst, on the contrary, with the Moorish neither the one nor the other exhibits the slightest point of similarity or connection. But with these specimens we shall not content ourselves, but proceed to give the names of the most common things and objects in the Hungarian and Spanish Gitano, collaterally, with their equivalents in the Moorish Arabic; from which it will appear that whilst the former are one and the same language, they are in every respect at variance with the latter. When we consider that the Persian has adopted so many words and phrases from the Arabic, we are at first disposed to wonder that a considerable portion of these words are not to be discovered in every dialect of the Gypsy tongue, since the Persian has lent it so much of its vocabulary. Yet such is by no means the case, as it is very uncommon, in any one of these dialects, to discover words derived from the Arabic. Perhaps, however, the following consideration will help to solve this point. The Gitanos, even before they left India, were probably much the same rude, thievish, and ignorant people as they are at the present day. Now the words adopted by the Persian from the Arabic, and which it subsequently introduced into the dialects of India, are sounds representing objects and ideas with which such a people as the Gitanos could necessarily be but scantily acquainted, a people whose circle of ideas only embraces physical objects, and who never commune with their own minds, nor exert them but in devising low and vulgar schemes of pillage and deceit. Whatever is visible and common is seldom or never represented by the Persians, even in their books, by the help of Arabic words: the sun and stars, the sea and river, the earth, its trees, its fruits, its flowers, and all that it produces and supports, are seldom named by them by other terms than those which their own language is capable of affording; but in expressing the abstract thoughts of their minds, and they are a people who think much and well, they borrow largely from the language of their religion - the Arabic. We therefore, perhaps, ought not to be surprised that in the scanty phraseology of the Gitanos, amongst so much Persian, we find so little that is Arabic; had their pursuits been less vile, their desires less animal, and their thoughts less circumscribed, it would probably have been otherwise; but from time immemorial they have shown themselves a nation of petty thieves, horse-traffickers, and the like, without a thought of the morrow, being content to provide against the evil of the passing day.

The following is a comparison of words in the three languages:-

Hungarian Spanish Moorish Gypsy.(72) Gitano. Arabic.

Bone Cokalos Cocal Adorn City Forjus Foros Beled Day Dives Chibes Youm Drink (to) Piava Piyar Yeschrab Ear Kan Can Oothin Eye Jakh Aquia Ein Feather Por Porumia Risch Fire Vag Yaque Afia Fish Maczo Macho Hutz Foot Pir Piro, pindro Rjil Gold Sonkai Sonacai Dahab Great Baro Baro Quibir Hair Bala Bal Schar He, pron. Wow O Hu Head Tschero Jero Ras House Ker Quer Dar Husband Rom Ron Zooje Lightning Molnija Maluno Brak Love (to) Camaba Camelar Yehib Man Manusch Manu Rajil Milk Tud Chuti Helib Mountain Bar Bur Djibil Mouth Mui Mui Fum Name Nao Nao Ism Night Rat Rachi Lila Nose Nakh Naqui Munghar Old Puro Puro Shaive Red Lal Lalo Hamr Salt Lon Lon Mela Sing Gjuwawa Gilyabar Iganni Sun Cam Can Schems Thief Tschor Choro Haram Thou Tu Tucue Antsin Tongue Tschib Chipe Lsan Tooth Dant Dani Sinn Tree Karscht Caste Schizara Water Pani Pani Ma Wind Barbar Barban Ruhk

We shall offer no further observations respecting the affinity of the Spanish Gitano to the other dialects, as we conceive we have already afforded sufficient proof of its original identity with them, and consequently shaken to the ground the absurd opinion that the Gitanos of Spain are the descendants of the Arabs and Moriscos. We shall now conclude with a few remarks on the present state of the Gitano language in Spain, where, perhaps, within the course of a few years, it will have perished, without leaving a vestige of its having once existed; and where, perhaps, the singular people who speak it are likewise doomed to disappear, becoming sooner or later engulfed and absorbed in the great body of the nation, amongst whom they have so long existed a separate and peculiar class.

Though the words or a part of the words of the original tongue still remain, preserved by memory amongst the Gitanos, its grammatical peculiarities have disappeared, the entire language having been modified and subjected to the rules of Spanish grammar, with which it now coincides in syntax, in the conjugation of verbs, and in the declension of its nouns. Were it possible or necessary to collect all the relics of this speech, they would probably amount to four or five thousand words; but to effect such an achievement, it would be necessary to hold close and long intercourse with almost every Gitano in Spain, and to extract, by various means, the peculiar information which he might be capable of affording; for it is necessary to state here, that though such an amount of words may still exist amongst the Gitanos in general, no single individual of their sect is in possession of one-third part thereof, nor indeed, we may add, those of any single city or province of Spain; nevertheless all are in possession, more or less, of the language, so that, though of different provinces, they are enabled to understand each other tolerably well, when discoursing in this their characteristic speech. Those who travel most are of course best versed in it, as, independent of the words of their own village or town, they acquire others by intermingling with their race in various places. Perhaps there is no part of Spain where it is spoken better than in Madrid, which is easily accounted for by the fact, that Madrid, as the capital, has always been the point of union of the Gitanos, from all those provinces of Spain where they are to be found. It is least of all preserved in Seville, notwithstanding that its Gitano population is very considerable, consisting, however, almost entirely of natives of the place. As may well be supposed, it is in all places best preserved amongst the old people, their children being comparatively ignorant of it, as perhaps they themselves are in comparison with their own parents. We are persuaded that the Gitano language of Spain is nearly at its last stage of existence, which persuasion has been our main instigator to the present attempt to collect its scanty remains, and by the assistance of the press, rescue it in some degree from destruction. It will not be amiss to state here, that it is only by listening attentively to the speech of the Gitanos, whilst discoursing amongst themselves, that an acquaintance with their dialect can be formed, and by seizing upon all unknown words as they fall in succession from their lips. Nothing can be more useless and hopeless than the attempt to obtain possession of their vocabulary by inquiring of them how particular objects and ideas are styled; for with the exception of the names of the most common things, they are totally incapable, as a Spanish writer has observed, of yielding the required information, owing to their great ignorance, the shortness of their memories, or rather the state of bewilderment to which their minds are brought by any question which tends to bring their reasoning faculties into action, though not unfrequently the very words which have been in vain required of them will, a minute subsequently, proceed inadvertently from their mouths.

We now take leave of their language. When wishing to praise the proficiency of any individual in their tongue, they are in the habit of saying, 'He understands the seven jargons.' In the Gospel which we have printed in this language, and in the dictionary which we have compiled, we have endeavoured, to the utmost of our ability, to deserve that compliment; and at all times it will afford us sincere and heartfelt pleasure to be informed that any Gitano, capable of appreciating the said little works, has observed, whilst reading them or hearing them read: It is clear that the writer of these books understood



'So I went with them to a music booth, where they made me almost drunk with gin, and began to talk their FLASH LANGUAGE, which I did not understand.' - Narrative of the Exploits of Henry Simms, executed at Tyburn, 1746.

'Hablaronse los dos en Germania, de lo qual resulto darme un abraco, y ofrecerseme.' - QUEVEDO. Vida dal gran Tacano.

HAVING in the preceding article endeavoured to afford all necessary information concerning the Rommany, or language used by the Gypsies amongst themselves, we now propose to turn our attention to a subject of no less interest, but which has hitherto never been treated in a manner calculated to lead to any satisfactory result or conclusion; on the contrary, though philosophic minds have been engaged in its consideration, and learned pens have not disdained to occupy themselves with its details, it still remains a singular proof of the errors into which the most acute and laborious writers are apt to fall, when they take upon themselves the task of writing on matters which cannot be studied in the closet, and on which no information can be received by mixing in the society of the wise, the lettered, and the respectable, but which must be investigated in the fields, and on the borders of the highways, in prisons, and amongst the dregs of society. Had the latter system been pursued in the matter now before us, much clearer, more rational, and more just ideas would long since have been entertained respecting the Germania, or language of thieves.

In most countries of Europe there exists, amongst those who obtain their existence by the breach of the law, and by preying upon the fruits of the labours of the quiet and orderly portion of society, a particular jargon or dialect, in which the former discuss their schemes and plans of plunder, without being in general understood by those to whom they are obnoxious. The name of this jargon varies with the country in which it is spoken. In Spain it is called 'Germania'; in France, 'Argot'; in Germany, 'Rothwelsch,' or Red Italian; in Italy, 'Gergo'; whilst in England it is known by many names; for example, 'cant, slang, thieves' Latin,' etc. The most remarkable circumstance connected with the history of this jargon is, that in all the countries in which it is spoken, it has invariably, by the authors who have treated of it, and who are numerous, been confounded with the Gypsy language, and asserted to be the speech of those wanderers who have so long infested Europe under the name of Gitanos, etc. How far this belief is founded in justice we shall now endeavour to show, with the premise that whatever we advance is derived, not from the assertions or opinions of others, but from our own observation; the point in question being one which no person is capable of solving, save him who has mixed with Gitanos and thieves, - not with the former merely or the latter, but with both.

We have already stated what is the Rommany or language of the Gypsies. We have proved that when properly spoken it is to all intents and purposes entitled to the appellation of a language, and that wherever it exists it is virtually the same; that its origin is illustrious, it being a daughter of the Sanscrit, and in consequence in close connection with some of the most celebrated languages of the East, although it at present is only used by the most unfortunate and degraded of beings, wanderers without home and almost without country, as wherever they are found they are considered in the light of foreigners and interlopers. We shall now state what the language of thieves is, as it is generally spoken in Europe; after which we shall proceed to analyse it according to the various countries in which it is used.

The dialect used for their own peculiar purposes amongst thieves is by no means entitled to the appellation of a language, but in every sense to that of a jargon or gibberish, it being for the most part composed of words of the native language of those who use it, according to the particular country, though invariably in a meaning differing more or less from the usual and received one, and for the most part in a metaphorical sense. Metaphor and allegory, indeed, seem to form the nucleus of this speech, notwithstanding that other elements are to be distinguished; for it is certain that in every country where it is spoken, it contains many words differing from the language of that country, and which may either be traced to foreign tongues, or are of an origin at which, in many instances, it is impossible to arrive. That which is most calculated to strike the philosophic mind when considering this dialect, is doubtless the fact of its being formed everywhere upon the same principle - that of metaphor, in which point all the branches agree, though in others they differ as much from each other as the languages on which they are founded; for example, as the English and German from the Spanish and Italian. This circumstance naturally leads to the conclusion that the robber language has not arisen fortuitously in the various countries where it is at present spoken, but that its origin is one and the same, it being probably invented by the outlaws of one particular country; by individuals of which it was, in course of time, carried to others, where its principles, if not its words, were adopted; for upon no other supposition can we account for its general metaphorical character in regions various and distant. It is, of course, impossible to state with certainty the country in which this jargon first arose, yet there is cogent reason for supposing that it may have been Italy. The Germans call it Rothwelsch, which signifies 'Red Italian,' a name which appears to point out Italy as its birthplace; and which, though by no means of sufficient importance to determine the question, is strongly corroborative of the supposition, when coupled with the following fact. We have already intimated, that wherever it is spoken, this speech, though composed for the most part of words of the language of the particular country, applied in a metaphorical sense, exhibits a considerable sprinkling of foreign words; now of these words no slight number are Italian or bastard Latin, whether in Germany, whether in Spain, or in other countries more or less remote from Italy. When we consider the ignorance of thieves in general, their total want of education, the slight knowledge which they possess even of their mother tongue, it is hardly reasonable to suppose that in any country they were ever capable of having recourse to foreign languages, for the purpose of enriching any peculiar vocabulary or phraseology which they might deem convenient to use among themselves; nevertheless, by associating with foreign thieves, who had either left their native country for their crimes, or from a hope of reaping a rich harvest of plunder in other lands, it would be easy for them to adopt a considerable number of words belonging to the languages of their foreign associates, from whom perhaps they derived an increase of knowledge in thievish arts of every description. At the commencement of the fifteenth century no nation in Europe was at all calculated to vie with the Italian in arts of any kind, whether those whose tendency was the benefit or improvement of society, or those the practice of which serves to injure and undermine it. The artists and artisans of Italy were to be found in all the countries of Europe, from Madrid to Moscow, and so were its charlatans, its jugglers, and multitudes of its children, who lived by fraud and cunning. Therefore, when a comprehensive view of the subject is taken, there appears to be little improbability in supposing, that not only were the Italians the originators of the metaphorical robber jargon, which has been termed 'Red Italian,' but that they were mainly instrumental in causing it to be adopted by the thievish race in various countries of Europe.

It is here, however, necessary to state, that in the robber jargon of Europe, elements of another language are to be discovered, and perhaps in greater number than the Italian words. The language which we allude to is the Rommany; this language has been, in general, confounded with the vocabulary used among thieves, which, however, is a gross error, so gross, indeed, that it is almost impossible to conceive the manner in which it originated: the speech of the Gypsies being a genuine language of Oriental origin, and the former little more than a phraseology of convenience, founded upon particular European tongues. It will be sufficient here to remark, that the Gypsies do not understand the jargon of the thieves, whilst the latter, with perhaps a few exceptions, are ignorant of the language of the former. Certain words, however, of the Rommany have found admission into the said jargon, which may be accounted for by the supposition that the Gypsies, being themselves by birth, education, and profession, thieves of the first water, have, on various occasions, formed alliances with the outlaws of the various countries in which they are at present to be found, which association may have produced the result above alluded to; but it will be as well here to state, that in no country of Europe have the Gypsies forsaken or forgotten their native tongue, and in its stead adopted the 'Germania,' 'Red Italian,' or robber jargon, although in some they preserve their native language in a state of less purity than in others. We are induced to make this statement from an assertion of the celebrated Lorenzo Hervas, who, in the third volume of his CATALOGO DE LAS LENGUAS, trat. 3, cap. vi., p. 311, expresses himself to the following effect:- 'The proper language of the Gitanos neither is nor can be found amongst those who scattered themselves through the western kingdoms of Europe, but only amongst those who remained in the eastern, where they are still to be found. The former were notably divided and disunited, receiving into their body a great number of European outlaws, on which account the language in question was easily adulterated and soon perished. In Spain, and also in Italy, the Gitanos have totally forgotten and lost their native language; yet still wishing to converse with each other in a language unknown to the Spaniards and Italians, they have invented some words, and have transformed many others by changing the signification which properly belongs to them in Spanish and Italian.' In proof of which assertion he then exhibits a small number of words of the 'Red Italian,' or allegorical tongue of the thieves of Italy.

It is much to be lamented that a man like Hervas, so learned, of such knowledge, and upon the whole well-earned celebrity, should have helped to propagate three such flagrant errors as are contained in the passages above quoted: 1st. That the Gypsy language, within a very short period after the arrival of those who spoke it in the western kingdoms of Europe, became corrupted, and perished by the admission of outlaws into the Gypsy fraternity. 2ndly. That the Gypsies, in order to supply the loss of their native tongue, invented some words, and modified others, from the Spanish and Italian. 3rdly. That the Gypsies of the present day in Spain and Italy speak the allegorical robber dialect. Concerning the first assertion, namely, that the Gypsies of the west lost their language shortly after their arrival, by mixing with the outlaws of those parts, we believe that its erroneousness will be sufficiently established by the publication of the present volume, which contains a dictionary of the Spanish Gitano, which we have proved to be the same language in most points as that spoken by the eastern tribes. There can be no doubt that the Gypsies have at various times formed alliances with the robbers of particular countries, but that they ever received them in considerable numbers into their fraternity, as Hervas has stated, so as to become confounded with them, the evidence of our eyesight precludes the possibility of believing. If such were the fact, why do the Italian and Spanish Gypsies of the present day still present themselves as a distinct race, differing from the other inhabitants of the west of Europe in feature, colour, and constitution? Why are they, in whatever situation and under whatever circumstances, to be distinguished, like Jews, from the other children of the Creator? But it is scarcely necessary to ask such a question, or indeed to state that the Gypsies of Spain and Italy have kept themselves as much apart as, or at least have as little mingled their blood with the Spaniards and Italians as their brethren in Hungaria and Transylvania with the inhabitants of those countries, on which account they still strikingly resemble them in manners, customs, and appearance. The most extraordinary assertion of Hervas is perhaps his second, namely, that the Gypsies have invented particular words to supply the place of others which they had lost. The absurdity of this supposition nearly induces us to believe that Hervas, who has written so much and so laboriously on language, was totally ignorant of the philosophy of his subject. There can be no doubt, as we have before admitted, that in the robber jargon, whether spoken in Spain, Italy, or England, there are many words at whose etymology it is very difficult to arrive; yet such a fact is no excuse for the adoption of the opinion that these words are of pure invention. A knowledge of the Rommany proves satisfactorily that many have been borrowed from that language, whilst many others may be traced to foreign tongues, especially the Latin and Italian. Perhaps one of the strongest grounds for concluding that the origin of language was divine is the fact that no instance can be adduced of the invention, we will not say of a language, but even of a single word that is in use in society of any kind. Although new dialects are continually being formed, it is only by a system of modification, by which roots almost coeval with time itself are continually being reproduced under a fresh appearance, and under new circumstances. The third assertion of Hervas, as to the Gitanos speaking the allegorical language of which he exhibits specimens, is entitled to about equal credence as the two former. The truth is, that the entire store of erudition of the learned Jesuit, and he doubtless was learned to a remarkable degree, was derived from books, either printed or manuscript. He compared the Gypsy words in the publication of Grellmann with various vocabularies, which had long been in existence, of the robber jargons of Spain and Italy, which jargons by a strange fatuity had ever been considered as belonging to the Gypsies. Finding that the Gypsy words of Grellmann did not at all correspond with the thieves' slang, he concluded that the Gypsies of Spain and Italy had forgotten their own language, and to supply its place had invented the jargons aforesaid, but he never gave himself the trouble to try whether the Gypsies really understood the contents of his slang vocabularies; had he done so, he would have found that the slang was about as unintelligible to the Gypsies as he would have found the specimens of Grellmann unintelligible to the thieves had he quoted those specimens to them. The Gypsies of Spain, it will be sufficient to observe, speak the language of which a vocabulary is given in the present work, and those of Italy who are generally to be found existing in a half-savage state in the various ruined castles, relics of the feudal times, with which Italy abounds, a dialect very similar, and about as much corrupted. There are, however, to be continually found in Italy roving bands of Rommany, not natives of the country, who make excursions from Moldavia and Hungaria to France and Italy, for the purpose of plunder; and who, if they escape the hand of justice, return at the expiration of two or three years to their native regions, with the booty they have amassed by the practice of those thievish arts, perhaps at one period peculiar to their race, but at present, for the most part, known and practised by thieves in general. These bands, however, speak the pure Gypsy language, with all its grammatical peculiarities. It is evident, however, that amongst neither of these classes had Hervas pushed his researches, which had he done, it is probable that his investigations would have resulted in a work of a far different character from the confused, unsatisfactory, and incorrect details of which is formed his essay on the language of the Gypsies.

Having said thus much concerning the robber language in general, we shall now proceed to offer some specimens of it, in order that our readers may be better able to understand its principles. We shall commence with the Italian dialect, which there is reason for supposing to be the prototype of the rest. To show what it is, we avail ourselves of some of the words adduced by Hervas, as specimens of the language of the Gitanos of Italy. 'I place them,' he observes, 'with the signification which the greater number properly have in Italian.'

Robber jargon Proper signification of of Italy. the words.

Arm { Ale Wings { Barbacane Barbican Belly Fagiana Pheasant Devil Rabuino Perhaps RABBIN, which, in Hebrew, is Master Earth Calcosa Street, road Eye Balco Balcony Father Grimo Old, wrinkled Fire Presto Quick God Anticrotto Probably ANTICHRIST Hair Prusa (73) { Elmo Helmet Head { Borella (74) { Chiurla (75) Heart Salsa Sauce Man Osmo From the Italian UOMO, which is man Moon Mocoloso di Wick of the firmament Sant' Alto Night Brunamaterna Mother-brown Nose Gambaro Crab Sun Ruffo di Sant' Red one of the firmament Alto Tongue { Serpentina Serpent-like { Danosa Hurtful Water { Lenza Fishing-net { Vetta (76) Top, bud

The Germania of Spain may be said to divide itself into two dialects, the ancient and modern. Of the former there exists a vocabulary, published first by Juan Hidalgo, in the year 1609, at Barcelona, and reprinted in Madrid, 1773. Before noticing this work, it will perhaps be advisable to endeavour to ascertain the true etymology of the word Germania, which signifies the slang vocabulary, or robber language of Spain. We have no intention to embarrass our readers by offering various conjectures respecting its origin; its sound, coupled with its signification, affording sufficient evidence that it is but a corruption of Rommany, which properly denotes the speech of the Roma or Gitanos. The thieves who from time to time associated with this wandering people, and acquired more or less of their language, doubtless adopted this term amongst others, and, after modifying it, applied it to the peculiar phraseology which, in the course of time, became prevalent amongst them. The dictionary of Hidalgo is appended to six ballads, or romances, by the same author, written in the Germanian dialect, in which he describes the robber life at Seville at the period in which he lived. All of these romances possess their peculiar merit, and will doubtless always be considered valuable, and be read as faithful pictures of scenes and habits which now no longer exist. In the prologue, the author states that his principal motive for publishing a work written in so strange a language was his observing the damage which resulted from an ignorance of the Germania, especially to the judges and ministers of justice, whose charge it is to cleanse the public from the pernicious gentry who use it. By far the greatest part of the vocabulary consists of Spanish words used allegorically, which are, however, intermingled with many others, most of which may be traced to the Latin and Italian, others to the Sanscrit or Gitano, Russian, Arabic, Turkish, Greek, and German languages. (77) The circumstances of words belonging to some of the languages last enumerated being found in the Gitano, which at first may strike the reader as singular, and almost incredible, will afford but slight surprise, when he takes into consideration the peculiar circumstances of Spain during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Spain was at that period the most powerful monarchy in Europe; her foot reposed upon the Low Countries, whilst her gigantic arms embraced a considerable portion of Italy. Maintaining always a standing army in Flanders and in Italy, it followed as a natural consequence, that her Miquelets and soldiers became tolerably conversant with the languages of those countries; and, in course of time, returning to their native land, not a few, especially of the former class, a brave and intrepid, but always a lawless and dissolute species of soldiery, either fell in or returned to evil society, and introduced words which they had learnt abroad into the robber phraseology; whilst returned galley- slaves from Algiers, Tunis, and Tetuan, added to its motley variety of words from the relics of the broken Arabic and Turkish, which they had acquired during their captivity. The greater part of the Germania, however, remained strictly metaphorical, and we are aware of no better means of conveying an idea of the principle on which it is formed, than by quoting from the first romance of Hidalgo, where particular mention is made of this jargon:-

'A la cama llama Blanda Donde Sornan en poblado A la Fresada Vellosa, Que mucho vello ha criado. Dice a la sabana Alba Porque es alba en sumo grado, A la camisa Carona, Al jubon llama apretado: Dice al Sayo Tapador Porque le lleva tapado. Llama a los zapatos Duros, Que las piedras van pisando. A la capa llama nuve, Dice al Sombrero Texado. Respeto llama a la Espada, Que por ella es respetado,' etc. etc.

HIDALGO, p. 22-3.

After these few remarks on the ancient Germania of Spain, we now proceed to the modern, which differs considerably from the former. The principal cause of this difference is to be attributed to the adoption by the Spanish outlaws, in latter years, of a considerable number of words belonging to, or modified from, the Rommany, or language of the Gitanos. The Gitanos of Spain, during the last half-century, having, in a great degree, abandoned the wandering habit of life which once constituted one of their most remarkable peculiarities, and residing, at present, more in the cities than in the fields, have come into closer contact with the great body of the Spanish nation than was in former days their practice. From their living thus in towns, their language has not only undergone much corruption, but has become, to a slight degree, known to the dregs of society, amongst whom they reside. The thieves' dialect of the present day exhibits, therefore, less of the allegorical language preserved in the pages of Hidalgo than of the Gypsy tongue. It must be remarked, however, that it is very scanty, and that the whole robber phraseology at present used in Spain barely amounts to two hundred words, which are utterly insufficient to express the very limited ideas of the outcasts who avail themselves of it.

Concerning the Germania of France, or 'Argot,' as it is called, it is unnecessary to make many observations, as what has been said of the language of Hidalgo and the Red Italian is almost in every respect applicable to it. As early as the middle of the sixteenth century a vocabulary of this jargon was published under the title of LANGUE DES ESCROCS, at Paris. Those who wish to study it as it at present exists can do no better than consult LES MEMOIRES DE VIDOCQ, where a multitude of words in Argot are to be found, and also several songs, the subjects of which are thievish adventures.

The first vocabulary of the 'Cant Language,' or English Germania, appeared in the year 1680, appended to the life of THE ENGLISH ROGUE, a work which, in many respects, resembles the HISTORY OF GUZMAN D'ALFARACHE, though it is written with considerably more genius than the Spanish novel, every chapter abounding with remarkable adventures of the robber whose life it pretends to narrate, and which are described with a kind of ferocious energy, which, if it do not charm the attention of the reader, at least enslaves it, holding it captive with a chain of iron. Amongst his other adventures, the hero falls in with a Gypsy encampment, is enrolled amongst the fraternity, and is allotted a 'mort,' or concubine; a barbarous festival ensues, at the conclusion of which an epithalamium is sung in the Gypsy language, as it is called in the work in question. Neither the epithalamium, however, nor the vocabulary, are written in the language of the English Gypsies, but in the 'Cant,' or allegorical robber dialect, which is sufficient proof that the writer, however well acquainted with thieves in general, their customs and manners of life, was in respect to the Gypsies profoundly ignorant. His vocabulary, however, has been always accepted as the speech of the English Gypsies, whereas it is at most entitled to be considered as the peculiar speech of the thieves and vagabonds of his time. The cant of the present day, which, though it differs in some respects from the vocabulary already mentioned, is radically the same, is used not only by the thieves in town and country, but by the jockeys of the racecourse and the pugilists of the 'ring.' As a specimen of the cant of England, we shall take the liberty of quoting the epithalamium to which we have above alluded:-

'Bing out, bien morts, and tour and tour Bing out, bien morts and tour; For all your duds are bing'd awast, The bien cove hath the loure. (78)

'I met a dell, I viewed her well, She was benship to my watch: So she and I did stall and cloy Whatever we could catch.

'This doxy dell can cut ben whids, And wap well for a win, And prig and cloy so benshiply, All daisy-ville within.

'The hoyle was up, we had good luck, In frost for and in snow; Men they did seek, then we did creep And plant the roughman's low.'

It is scarcely necessary to say anything more upon the Germania in general or in particular; we believe that we have achieved the task which we marked out for ourselves, and have conveyed to our readers a clear and distinct idea of what it is. We have shown that it has been erroneously confounded with the Rommany, or Gitano language, with which it has nevertheless some points of similarity. The two languages are, at the present day, used for the same purpose, namely, to enable habitual breakers of the law to carry on their consultations with more secrecy and privacy than by the ordinary means. Yet it must not be forgotten that the thieves' jargon was invented for that purpose, whilst the Rommany, originally the proper and only speech of a particular nation, has been preserved from falling into entire disuse and oblivion, because adapted to answer the same end. It was impossible to treat of the Rommany in a manner calculated to exhaust the subject, and to leave no ground for future cavilling, without devoting a considerable space to the consideration of the robber dialect, on which account we hope we shall be excused many of the dry details which we have introduced into the present essay. There is a link of connection between the history of the Roma, or wanderers from Hindustan, who first made their appearance in Europe at the commencement of the fifteenth century, and that of modern roguery. Many of the arts which the Gypsies proudly call their own, and which were perhaps at one period peculiar to them, have become divulged, and are now practised by the thievish gentry who infest the various European states, a result which, we may assert with confidence, was brought about by the alliance of the Gypsies being eagerly sought on their first arrival by the thieves, who, at one period, were less skilful than the former in the ways of deceit and plunder; which kind of association continued and held good until the thieves had acquired all they wished to learn, when they left the Gypsies in the fields and plains, so dear to them from their vagabond and nomad habits, and returned to the towns and cities. Yet from this temporary association were produced two results; European fraud became sharpened by coming into contact with Asiatic craft, whilst European tongues, by imperceptible degrees, became recruited with various words (some of them wonderfully expressive), many of which have long been stumbling-stocks to the philologist, who, whilst stigmatising them as words of mere vulgar invention, or of unknown origin, has been far from dreaming that by a little more research he might have traced them to the Sclavonic, Persian, or Romaic, or perhaps to the mysterious object of his veneration, the Sanscrit, the sacred tongue of the palm-covered regions of Ind; words originally introduced into Europe by objects too miserable to occupy for a moment his lettered attention - the despised denizens of the tents of Roma.


Those who have done me the honour to peruse this strange wandering book of mine, must frequently have noticed the word 'Busno,' a term bestowed by the Spanish Gypsy on his good friend the Spaniard. As the present will probably be the last occasion which I shall have to speak of the Gitanos or anything relating to them, it will perhaps be advisable to explain the meaning of this word. In the vocabulary appended to former editions I have translated Busno by such words as Gentile, savage, person who is not a Gypsy, and have stated that it is probably connected with a certain Sanscrit noun signifying an impure person. It is, however, derived immediately from a Hungarian term, exceedingly common amongst the lower orders of the Magyars, to their disgrace be it spoken. The Hungarian Gypsies themselves not unfrequently style the Hungarians Busnoes, in ridicule of their unceasing use of the word in question. The first Gypsies who entered Spain doubtless brought with them the term from Hungary, the language of which country they probably understood to a certain extent. That it was not ill applied by them in Spain no one will be disposed to deny when told that it exactly corresponds with the Shibboleth of the Spaniards, 'Carajo,' an oath equally common in Spain as its equivalent in Hungary. Busno, therefore, in Spanish means EL DEL CARAJO, or he who has that term continually in his mouth. The Hungarian words in Spanish Gypsy may amount to ten or twelve, a very inconsiderable number; but the Hungarian Gypsy tongue itself, as spoken at the present day, exhibits only a slight sprinkling of Hungarian words, whilst it contains many words borrowed from the Wallachian, some of which have found their way into Spain, and are in common use amongst the Gitanos.



'TACHIPEN if I jaw 'doi, I can lel a bit of tan to hatch: N'etist I shan't puch kekomi wafu gorgies.'

The above sentence, dear reader, I heard from the mouth of Mr. Petulengro, the last time that he did me the honour to visit me at my poor house, which was the day after Mol-divvus (79), 1842: he stayed with me during the greater part of the morning, discoursing on the affairs of Egypt, the aspect of which, he assured me, was becoming daily worse and worse. 'There is no living for the poor people, brother,' said he, 'the chokengres (police) pursue us from place to place, and the gorgios are become either so poor or miserly, that they grudge our cattle a bite of grass by the wayside, and ourselves a yard of ground to light a fire upon. Unless times alter, brother, and of that I see no probability, unless you are made either poknees or mecralliskoe geiro (justice of the peace or prime minister), I am afraid the poor persons will have to give up wandering altogether, and then what will become of them?'

'However, brother,' he continued, in a more cheerful tone, 'I am no hindity mush, (80) as you well know. I suppose you have not forgot how, fifteen years ago, when you made horseshoes in the little dingle by the side of the great north road, I lent you fifty cottors (81) to purchase the wonderful trotting cob of the innkeeper with the green Newmarket coat, which three days after you sold for two hundred.

'Well, brother, if you had wanted the two hundred instead of the fifty, I could have lent them to you, and would have done so, for I knew you would not be long pazorrhus to me. I am no hindity mush, brother, no Irishman; I laid out the other day twenty pounds in buying ruponoe peamengries; (82) and in the Chonggav, (83) have a house of my own with a yard behind it.


Well, dear reader, this last is the translation of the Gypsy sentence which heads the chapter, and which is a very characteristic specimen of the general way of speaking of the English Gypsies.

The language, as they generally speak it, is a broken jargon, in which few of the grammatical peculiarities of the Rommany are to be distinguished. In fact, what has been said of the Spanish Gypsy dialect holds good with respect to the English as commonly spoken: yet the English dialect has in reality suffered much less than the Spanish, and still retains its original syntax to a certain extent, its peculiar manner of conjugating verbs, and declining nouns and pronouns.


Moro Dad, savo djives oteh drey o charos, te caumen Gorgio ta Romany Chal tiro nav, te awel tiro tem, te kairen tiro lav aukko prey puv, sar kairdios oteh drey o charos. Dey men to-divvus moro divvuskoe moro, ta for-dey men pazorrhus tukey sar men for-denna len pazorrhus amande; ma muk te petrenna drey caik temptacionos; ley men abri sor doschder. Tiro se o tem, Mi-duvel, tiro o zoozlu vast, tiro sor koskopen drey sor cheros. Avali. Ta-chipen.


Batu monro sos socabas ote enre ye char, que camele Gacho ta Romani Cha tiro nao, qu'abillele tiro chim, querese tiro lao acoi opre ye puve sarta se querela ote enre ye char. Dinanos sejonia monro manro de cata chibes, ta estormenanos monrias bisauras sasta mu estormenamos a monrias bisabadores; na nos meques petrar enre cayque pajandia, lillanos abri de saro chungalipen. Persos tiro sinela o chim, Undevel, tiro ye silna bast, tiro saro lachipen enre saro chiros. Unga. Chachipe.


OUR Father who dwellest there in heaven, may Gentile and Gypsy love thy name, thy kingdom come, may they do thy word here on earth as it is done there in heaven. Give us to-day our daily bread, (84) and forgive us indebted to thee as we forgive them indebted to us, (85) suffer not that we fall into NO temptation, take us out from all evil. (86) Thine (87) is the kingdom my God, thine the strong hand, thine all goodness in all time. Aye. Truth.


The following short sentences in Hungarian Gypsy, in addition to the prayer to the Virgin given in the Introduction, will perhaps not prove unacceptable to the reader. In no part of the world is the Gypsy tongue at the present day spoken with more purity than in Hungary, (88) where it is used by the Gypsies not only when they wish to be unintelligible to the Hungarians, but in their common conversation amongst themselves.

From these sentences the reader, by the help of the translations which accompany them, may form a tolerable idea not only of what the Gypsy tongue is, but of the manner in which the Hungarian Gypsies think and express themselves. They are specimens of genuine Gypsy talk - sentences which I have myself heard proceed from the mouths of the Czigany; they are not Busno thoughts done into gentle Rommany. Some of them are given here as they were written down by me at the time, others as I have preserved them in my memory up to the present moment. It is not improbable that at some future time I may return to the subject of the Hungarian Gypsies.

Vare tava soskei me puchelas cai soskei avillara catari. Mango le gulo Devlas vas o erai, hodj o erai te pirel misto, te n'avel pascotia l'eras, ta na avel o erai nasvalo. Cana cames aves pale. Ki'som dhes keral avel o rai catari? (89) Kit somu berschengro hal tu? (90) Cade abri mai lachi e mol sar ando foro. Sin o mas balichano, ta i gorkhe garasheskri; (91) sin o manro parno, cai te felo do garashangro. Yeck quartalli mol ando lende. Ande mol ote mestchibo. Khava piava - dui shel, tri shel predinava. Damen Devla saschipo ando mure cocala. Te rosarow labio tarraco le Mujeskey miro pralesco, ta vela mi anao tukey le Mujeskey miro pralesky. Llundun baro foro, bishwar mai baro sar Cosvaro. Nani yag, mullas. Nasiliom cai purdiom but; besh te pansch bersch mi homas slugadhis pa Baron Splini regimentos. Saro chiro cado Del; cavo o puro dinas o Del. Me camov te jav ando Buka-resti - cado Bukaresti lachico tem dur drom jin keri. Mi hom nasvallo. Soskei nai jas ke baro ful-cheri? Wei mangue ke nani man love nastis jav. Belgra sho mille pu cado Cosvarri; hin oter miro chabo. Te vas Del l'erangue ke meclan man abri ando a pan-dibo. Opre rukh sarkhi ye chiriclo, ca kerel anre e chiricli. Ca hin tiro ker? Ando calo berkho, oter bin miro ker, av prala mensar; jas mengue keri. Ando bersch dui chiro, ye ven, ta nilei. O felhegos del o breschino, te purdel o barbal. Hir mi Devlis camo but cavo erai - lacho manus o, Anglus, tama rakarel Ungarica; avel catari ando urdon le trin gras-tensas - beshel cate abri po buklo tan; le poivasis ando bas irinel ando lel. Bo zedun stadji ta bari barba.

Much I ponder why you ask me (questions), and why you should come hither. I pray the sweet Goddess for the gentleman, that the gentleman may journey well, that misfortune come not to the gentleman, and that the gentleman fall not sick. When you please come back. How many days did the gentleman take to come hither? How many years old are you? Here out better (is) the wine than in the city. The meat is of pig, and the gherkins cost a grosh - the bread is white, and the lard costs two groshen. One quart of wine amongst us. In wine there (is) happiness. I will eat, I will drink - two hundred, three hundred I will place before. Give us Goddess health in our bones. I will seek a waistcoat, which I have, for Moses my brother, and I will change names with Moses my brother. (92) London (is) a big city, twenty times more big than Colosvar. There is no fire, it is dead. I have suffered and toiled much: twenty and five years I was serving in Baron Splini's regiment. Every time (cometh) from God; that old (age) God gave. I wish to go unto Bukarest - from Bukarest, the good country, (it is) a far way unto (my) house. I am sick. Why do you not go to the great physician Because I have no money I can't go Belgrade (is) six miles of land from Colosvar; there is my son. May God help the gentlemen that they let me out (from) in the prison. On the tree (is) the nest of the bird, where makes eggs the female bird. Where is your house? In the black mountain, there is my house; come brother with me; let us go to my house. In the year (are) two seasons, the winter and summer. The cloud gives the rain, and puffs (forth) the wind. By my God I love much that gentleman - a good man he, an Englishman, but he speaks Hungarian; he came (93) hither in a waggon with three horses, he sits here out in the wilderness; (94) with a pencil in his hand he writes in a book. He has a green hat and a big beard.


[This section of the book could not be transcribed as it contained many non-european languages]



IT is with the view of preserving as many as possible of the monuments of the Spanish Gypsy tongue that the author inserts the following pieces; they are for the most part, whether original or translated, the productions of the 'Aficion' of Seville, of whom something has been said in the Preface to the Spurious Gypsy Poetry of Andalusia; not the least remarkable, however, of these pieces is a genuine Gypsy composition, the translation of the Apostles' Creed by the Gypsies of Cordova, made under the circumstances detailed in the second part of the first volume. To all have been affixed translations, more or less literal, to assist those who may wish to form some acquaintance with the Gitano language.


BATO Nonrro sos socabas on o tarpe, manjirificado quejesa tute acnao; abillanos or tute sichen, y querese tute orependola andial on la chen sata on o tarpe; or manrro nonrro de cata chibel dinanoslo sejonia, y estormenanos nonrrias bisauras andial sata gaberes estormenamos a nonrros bisaraores; y nasti nes muques petrar on la bajanbo, bus listrabanos de chorre. - Anarania.

FATHER Our, who dwellest in the heaven, sanctified become thy name; come-to-us the thy kingdom, and be-done thy will so in the earth as in the heaven; the bread our of every day give-us-it to-day, and pardon-us our debts so as we-others pardon (to) our debtors; and not let us fall in the temptation, but deliver-us from wickedness. - Amen.

Panchabo on Ostebe Bato saro-asisilable, Perbaraor de o tarpe y la chen, y on Gresone desquero Beyio Chabal nonrrio Erano, sos guillo sar-trujatapucherido per troecane y sardana de or Chanispero Manjaro, y purelo de Manjari ostelinda debla; Bricholo ostele de or asislar de Brono Alienicato; guillo trejuficao, mule y cabanao; y sundilo a los casinobes, (95) y a or brodelo chibel repurelo de enrre los mules, y encalomo a los otarpes, y soscabela bestique a la tabastorre de Ostebe Bato saro-asisilable, ende aoter a de abillar a sarplar a los Apucheris y mules. Panchabo on or Chanispero Manjaro, la Manjari Cangari Pebuldorica y Rebuldorica, la Erunon de los Manjaros, or Estormen de los crejetes, la repurelo de la mansenquere y la chibiben verable. - Anarania, Tebleque.

I believe in God, Father all-powerful, creator of the heaven and the earth, and in Christ his only Son our Lord, who went conceived by deed and favour of the Spirit Holy, and born of blessed goddess divine; suffered under (of) the might of Bronos Alienicatos; (96) went crucified, dead and buried; and descended to the conflagrations, and on the third day revived (97) from among the dead, and ascended to the heavens, and dwells seated at the right- hand of God, Father all-powerful, from there he-has to come to impeach (to) the living and dead. I believe in the Spirit Holy, the Holy Church Catholic and Apostolic, the communion of the saints, the remission of the sins, the re-birth of the flesh, and the life everlasting. - Amen, Jesus.


O Debla quirindia, Day de saros los Bordeles on coin panchabo: per los duquipenes sos naquelastes a or pindre de la trejul de tute Chaborro majarolisimo te manguelo, Debla, me alcorabises de tute chaborro or estormen de sares las dojis y crejetes sos menda udicare aquerao on andoba surdete. - Anarania, Tebleque.

Ostebe te berarbe Ostelinda! perdoripe sirles de sardana; or Erano sin sartute; bresban tute sirles enrre sares las rumiles, y bresban sin or frujero de tute po. - Tebleque.

Manjari Ostelinda, day de Ostebe, brichardila per gaberes crejetaores aocana y on la ocana de nonrra beriben! - Anarania, Tebleque.

Chimuclani or Bato, or Chabal, or Chanispero manjaro; sata sia on or presimelo, aocana, y gajeres: on los sicles de los sicles. - Anarania.

O most holy Virgin, Mother of all the Christians in whom I believe; for the agony which thou didst endure at the foot of the cross of thy most blessed Son, I entreat thee, Virgin, that thou wilt obtain for me, from thy Son, the remission of all the crimes and sins which I may have committed in this world. - Amen, Jesus.

God save thee, Maria! full art thou of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst all women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. - Jesus.

Holy Maria, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and in the hour of our death! - Amen, Jesus.

Glory (to) the Father, the Son, (and) the Holy Ghost; as was in the beginning, now, and for ever: in the ages of the ages. - Amen.


Pachabelo en Un-debel batu tosaro-baro, que ha querdi el char y la chique; y en Un-debel chinoro su unico chaboro erano de amangue, que chalo en el trupo de la Majari por el Duquende Majoro, y abio del veo de la Majari; guillo curado debajo de la sila de Pontio Pilato el chinobaro; guillo mulo y garabado; se chale a las jacharis; al trin chibe se ha sicobado de los mules al char; sinela bejado a las baste de Un-debel barrea; y de ote abiara a juzgar a los mules y a los que no lo sinelan; pachabelo en el Majaro; la Cangri Majari barea; el jalar de los Majaries; lo meco de los grecos; la resureccion de la maas, y la ochi que no marela.

I believe in God the Father all-great, who has made the heaven and the earth; and in God the young, his only Son, the Lord of us, who went into the body of the blessed (maid) by (means of) the Holy Ghost, and came out of the womb of the blessed; he was tormented beneath the power of Pontius Pilate, the great Alguazil; was dead and buried; he went (down) to the fires; on the third day he raised himself from the dead unto the heaven; he is seated at the major hand of God; and from thence he shall come to judge the dead and those who are not (dead). I believe in the blessed one; in the church holy and great; the banquet of the saints; the remission of sins; the resurrection of the flesh, and the life which does not die.


Or soscabela juco y terable garipe no le sin perfine anelar relichi. Bus yes manupe cha machagarno le pendan chuchipon los brochabos. Sacais sos ne dicobelan calochin ne bridaquelan. Coin terelare trasardos e dinastes nasti le buchare berrandanas a desquero contique. On sares las cachimanes de Sersen abillen reches. Bus mola yes chirriclo on la ba sos gres balogando. A Ostebe brichardilando y sar or mochique dinelando. Bus mola quesar jero de gabuno sos manpori de bombardo. Dicar y panchabar, sata penda Manjaro Lillar. Or esorjie de or narsichisle sin chismar lachinguel. Las queles mistos grobelas: per macara chibel la piri y de rachi la operisa. Aunsos me dicas vriardao de jorpoy ne sirlo braco. Chachipe con jujana - Calzones de buchi y medias de lana. Chuquel sos pirela cocal terela. Len sos sonsi bela pani o reblandani terela.

He who is lean and has scabs needs not carry a net. (98) When a man goes drunk the boys say to him 'suet.' (99) Eyes which see not break no heart. He who has a roof of glass let him not fling stones at his neighbour. Into all the taverns of Spain may reeds come. A bird in the hand is worth more than a hundred flying. To God (be) praying and with the flail plying. It is worth more to be the head of a mouse than the tail of a lion. To see and to believe, as Saint Thomas says. The extreme (100) of a dwarf is to spit largely. Houses well managed:- at mid-day the stew-pan, (101) and at night salad. Although thou seest me dressed in wool I am no sheep. Truth with falsehood-Breeches of silk and stockings of Wool. (102) The dog who walks finds a bone. The river which makes a noise (103) has either water or stones.

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