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that I have brought together. Theirs is the fullest joy
Lost Dog Network2023-12-01 17:38:45【two】4People have been watching
A goodly collection of Gypsies you will find in that little nook, crowded with caravans. Most of them are Tatchey Romany, real Gypsies, "long-established people, of the old order." Amongst them are Ratzie-mescroes, Hearnes, Herons, or duck-people; Chumo-mescroes or Bosvils; a Kaulo Camlo (a Black Lovel) or two, and a Beshaley or Stanley. It is no easy thing to find a Stanley nowadays, even in the Baulo Tem, or Hampshire, which is the proper home of the Stanleys, for the Bugnior, pimples or small-pox, has of late years made sad havoc amongst the Stanleys; but yonder tall old gentlewoman, descending the steps of a caravan, with a flaming red cloak and a large black beaver bonnet, and holding a travelling basket in her hand, is a Tatchey Beshaley, a "genuine" Stanley. The generality, however, of "them Gyptians" are Ratzie-mescroes, Hearnes, or duck- people; and, speaking of the Hearnes, it is but right to say that he who may be called the Gypsy Father of London, old Thomas Ratzie- mescro, or Hearne, though not exactly residing here, lives close by in a caravan, in a little bit of a yard over the way, where he can breathe more freely, and be less annoyed by the brats and the young fellows than he would be in yonder crowded place.
Though the spot which it has just been attempted to describe, may be considered as the head-quarters of the London Gypsies, on the Middlesex side of the Thames, the whole neighbourhood, for a mile to the north of it, may to a certain extent be considered a Gypsy region--that is, a district where Gypsies, or gentry whose habits very much resemble those of Gypsies, may at any time be found. No metropolitan district, indeed, could be well more suited for Gypsies to take up their abode in. It is a neighbourhood of transition; of brickfields, open spaces, poor streets inhabited by low artisans, isolated houses, sites of intended tenements, or sites of tenements which have been pulled down; it is in fact a mere chaos, where there is no order and no regularity; where there is nothing durable, or intended to be durable; though there can be little doubt that within a few years order and beauty itself will be found here, that the misery, squalidness, and meanness will have disappeared, and the whole district, up to the railroad arches which bound it on the west and north, will be covered with palaces, like those of Tyburnia, or delightful villas, like those which decorate what is called Saint John's Wood. At present, however, it is quite the kind of place to please the Gypsies and wandering people, who find many places within its bounds where they can squat and settle, or take up their quarters for a night or two without much risk of being interfered with. Here their tents, cars, and caravans may be seen amidst ruins, half-raised walls, and on patches of unenclosed ground; here their children may, throughout the day, be seen playing about, flinging up dust and dirt, some partly naked, and others entirely so; and here, at night, the different families, men, women, and children, may be seen seated around their fires and their kettles, taking their evening meal, and every now and then indulging in shouts of merriment, as much as to say, -
What care we, though we be so small? The tent shall stand when the palace shall fall;
which is quite true. The Gypsy tent must make way for the palace, but after a millennium or two, the Gypsy tent is pitched on the ruins of the palace.
Of the open spaces above mentioned, the most considerable is one called Latimer's Green. It lies on the north-western side of the district, and is not far from that place of old renown called the Shepherd's Bush, where in the good ancient times highwaymen used to lurk for the purpose of pouncing upon the travellers of the Oxford Road. It may contain about five or six acres, and, though nominally under the control of trustees, is in reality little more than a "no man's ground," where anybody may feed a horse, light a fire, and boil a kettle. It is a great resort of vagrant people, less of Gypsies than those who call themselves travellers, and are denominated by the Gypsies Chorodies, and who live for the most part in miserable caravans, though there is generally a Gypsy tent or two to be seen there, belonging to some Deighton or Shaw, or perhaps Petulengro, from the Lil-engro Tan, as the Romany call Cambridgeshire. Amidst these Chorody caravans and Gypsy tents may frequently be seen the ker-vardo, the house on wheels, of one who, whenever he takes up his quarters here, is considered the cock of the walk, the king of the place. He is a little under forty years of age, and somewhat under five feet ten inches in height. His face is wonderfully like that of a mastiff of the largest size, particularly in its jowls; his neck is short and very thick, and must be nearly as strong as that of a bull; his chest is so broad that one does not like to say how broad it is; and the voice which every now and then proceeds from it has much the sound of that of the mighty dog just mentioned; his arms are long and exceedingly muscular, and his fists huge and bony. He wears a low- crowned, broad-brimmed hat, a coarse blue coat with short skirts, leggings, and high-lows. Such is the kral o' the tan, the rex loci, the cock of the green. But what is he besides? Is he Gypsy, Chorody, or Hindity mush? I say, you had better not call him by any one of those names, for if you did he would perhaps hit you, and then, oh dear! That is Mr. G. A., a travelling horse-dealer, who lives in a caravan, and finds it frequently convenient to take up his abode for weeks together on Latimer's Green. He is a thorough-bred Englishman, though he is married to a daughter of one of the old, sacred Gypsy families, a certain Lurina Ratziemescri, duck or heron female, who is a very handsome woman, and who has two brothers, dark, stealthy-looking young fellows, who serve with almost slavish obedience their sister's lord and husband, listening uncomplainingly to his abuse of Gypsies, whom, though he lives amongst them and is married to one by whom he has several children, he holds in supreme contempt, never speaking of them but as a lying, thievish, cowardly set, any three of whom he could beat with one hand; as perhaps he could, for he is a desperate pugilist, and has three times fought in "the ring" with good men, whom, though not a scientific fighter, he beat with ease by dint of terrible blows, causing them to roar out. He is very well to do in the world; his caravan, a rather stately affair, is splendidly furnished within; and it is a pleasure to see his wife, at Hampton Court races, dressed in Gypsy fashion, decked with real gems and jewels and rich gold chains, and waited upon by her dark brothers dressed like dandy pages. How is all this expense supported? Why, by horsedealing. Mr. G. is, then, up to all kinds of horsedealers' tricks, no doubt. Aye, aye, he is up to them, but he doesn't practise them. He says it's of no use, and that honesty is the best policy, and he'll stick to it; and so he does, and finds the profit of it. His traffic in horses, though confined entirely to small people, such as market-gardeners, travellers, show-folks, and the like, is very great; every small person who wishes to buy a horse, or to sell a horse, or to swop a horse, goes to Mr. G., and has never reason to complain, for all acknowledge that he has done the fair thing by them; though all agree that there is no overreaching him, which indeed very few people try to do, deterred by the dread of his manual prowess, of which a Gypsy once gave to the writer the following striking illustration: --"He will jal oprey to a gry that's wafodu, prawla, and coure leste tuley with the courepen of his wast." (He will go up to a vicious horse, brother, and knock him down with a blow of his fist.)
The arches of the railroad which bounds this region on the west and north serve as a resort for Gypsies, who erect within them their tents, which are thus sheltered in summer from the scorching rays of the sun, and in winter from the drenching rain. In what close proximity we sometimes find emblems of what is most rude and simple, and what is most artificial and ingenious! For example, below the arch is the Gypsy donkey-cart, whilst above it is thundering the chariot of fire which can run across a county in half an hour. The principal frequenters of these arches are Bosvils and Lees; the former are chiefly tinkers, and the latter esconyemengres, or skewer- makers. The reason for this difference is that the Bosvils are chiefly immigrants from the country, where there is not much demand for skewers, whereas the Lees are natives of the metropolis or the neighbourhood, where the demand for skewers has from time immemorial been enormously great. It was in the shelter of one of these arches that the celebrated Ryley Bosvil, the Gypsy king of Yorkshire, breathed his last a few years ago.
Before quitting the subject of Metropolitan Gypsies there is another place to which it will be necessary to devote a few words, though it is less entitled to the appelation of Gypsyry than rookery. It is situated in the East of London, a region far more interesting to the ethnologist and the philologist than the West, for there he will find people of all kinds of strange races,--the wildest Irish; Greeks, both Orthodox and Papistical; Jews, not only Ashkenazim and Sephardim, but even Karaite; the worst, and consequently the most interesting, description of Germans, the sugar-bakers; lots of Malays; plenty of Chinamen; two or three dozen Hottentots, and about the same number of Gypsies, reckoning men, women, and children. Of the latter, and their place of abode, we have now only to do, leaving the other strange, odd people to be disposed of on some other occasion.
Not far from Shoreditch Church, and at a short distance from the street called Church Street, on the left hand, is a locality called Friars' Mount, but generally for shortness called The Mount. It derives its name from a friary built upon a small hillock in the time of Popery, where a set of fellows lived in laziness and luxury on the offerings of foolish and superstitious people, who resorted thither to kiss and worship an ugly wooden image of the Virgin, said to be a first-rate stick at performing miraculous cures. The neighbourhood, of course, soon became a resort for vagabonds of every description, for wherever friars are found rogues and thieves are sure to abound; and about Friars' Mount, highwaymen, coiners, and Gypsies dwelt in safety under the protection of the ministers of the miraculous image. The friary has long since disappeared, the Mount has been levelled, and the locality built over. The vice and villainy, however, which the friary called forth still cling to the district. It is one of the vilest dens of London, a grand resort for housebreakers, garotters, passers of bad money, and other disreputable people, though not for Gypsies; for however favourite a place it may have been for the Romany in the old time, it no longer finds much favour in their sight, from its not affording open spaces where they can pitch their tents. One very small street, however, is certainly entitled to the name of a Gypsy street, in which a few Gypsy families have always found it convenient to reside, and who are in the habit of receiving and lodging their brethren passing through London to and from Essex and other counties east of the metropolis. There is something peculiar in the aspect of this street, not observable in that of any of the others, which one who visits it, should he have been in Triana of Seville, would at once recognise as having seen in the aspect of the lanes and courts of that grand location of the Gypsies of the Andalusian capital.
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