The Romany Rye
Part 1 out of 9
Transcribed from the 1907 J. M. Dent Edition by David Price, email
THE ROMANY RYE
The Making of the Linch-pin--The Sound Sleeper--Breakfast--The
I awoke at the first break of day, and, leaving the postillion fast
asleep, stepped out of the tent. The dingle was dank and dripping.
I lighted a fire of coals, and got my forge in readiness. I then
ascended to the field, where the chaise was standing as we had left
it on the previous evening. After looking at the cloud-stone near
it, now cold, and split into three pieces, I set about prying
narrowly into the condition of the wheel and axletree--the latter
had sustained no damage of any consequence, and the wheel, as far
as I was able to judge, was sound, being only slightly injured in
the box. The only thing requisite to set the chaise in a
travelling condition appeared to be a linch-pin, which I determined
to make. Going to the companion wheel, I took out the linch-pin,
which I carried down with me to the dingle, to serve as a model.
I found Belle by this time dressed, and seated near the forge:
with a slight nod to her like that which a person gives who happens
to see an acquaintance when his mind is occupied with important
business, I forthwith set about my work. Selecting a piece of iron
which I thought would serve my purpose, I placed it in the fire,
and plying the bellows in a furious manner, soon made it hot; then
seizing it with the tongs, I laid it on my anvil, and began to beat
it with my hammer, according to the rules of my art. The dingle
resounded with my strokes. Belle sat still, and occasionally
smiled, but suddenly started up, and retreated towards her
encampment, on a spark which I purposely sent in her direction
alighting on her knee. I found the making of a linch-pin no easy
matter; it was, however, less difficult than the fabrication of a
pony-shoe; my work, indeed, was much facilitated by my having
another pin to look at. In about three-quarters of an hour I had
succeeded tolerably well, and had produced a linch-pin which I
thought would serve. During all this time, notwithstanding the
noise which I was making, the postillion never showed his face.
His non-appearance at first alarmed me: I was afraid he might be
dead, but, on looking into the tent, I found him still buried in
the soundest sleep. "He must surely be descended from one of the
seven sleepers," said I, as I turned away, and resumed my work. My
work finished, I took a little oil, leather, and sand, and polished
the pin as well as I could; then, summoning Belle, we both went to
the chaise, where, with her assistance, I put on the wheel. The
linch-pin which I had made fitted its place very well, and having
replaced the other, I gazed at the chaise for some time with my
heart full of that satisfaction which results from the
consciousness of having achieved a great action; then, after
looking at Belle in the hope of obtaining a compliment from her
lips, which did not come, I returned to the dingle, without saying
a word, followed by her. Belle set about making preparations for
breakfast; and I taking the kettle, went and filled it at the
spring. Having hung it over the fire, I went to the tent in which
the postillion was still sleeping, and called upon him to arise.
He awoke with a start, and stared around him at first with the
utmost surprise, not unmixed, I could observe, with a certain
degree of fear. At last, looking in my face, he appeared to
recollect himself. "I had quite forgot," said he, as he got up,
"where I was, and all that happened yesterday. However, I remember
now the whole affair, thunder-storm, thunder-bolt, frightened
horses, and all your kindness. Come, I must see after my coach and
horses; I hope we shall be able to repair the damage." "The damage
is already quite repaired," said I, "as you will see, if you come
to the field above." "You don't say so," said the postillion,
coming out of the tent; "well, I am mightily beholden to you. Good
morning, young gentle-woman," said he, addressing Belle, who,
having finished her preparations, was seated near the fire. "Good
morning, young man," said Belle, "I suppose you would be glad of
some breakfast; however, you must wait a little, the kettle does
not boil." "Come and look at your chaise," said I; "but tell me
how it happened that the noise which I have been making did not
awake you; for three-quarters of an hour at least I was hammering
close at your ear." "I heard you all the time," said the
postillion, "but your hammering made me sleep all the sounder; I am
used to hear hammering in my morning sleep. There's a forge close
by the room where I sleep when I'm at home, at my inn; for we have
all kinds of conveniences at my inn--forge, carpenter's shop, and
wheel-wright's,--so that when I heard you hammering I thought, no
doubt, that it was the old noise, and that I was comfortable in my
bed at my own inn." We now ascended to the field, where I showed
the postillion his chaise. He looked at the pin attentively,
rubbed his hands, and gave a loud laugh. "Is it not well done?"
said I. "It will do till I get home," he replied. "And that is
all you have to say?" I demanded. "And that's a good deal," said
he, "considering who made it. But don't be offended," he added, "I
shall prize it all the more for its being made by a gentleman, and
no blacksmith; and so will my governor, when I show it to him. I
shan't let it remain where it is, but will keep it, as a
remembrance of you, as long as I live." He then again rubbed his
hands with great glee, and said, "I will now go and see after my
horses, and then to breakfast, partner, if you please." Suddenly,
however, looking at his hands, he said, "Before sitting down to
breakfast I am in the habit of washing my hands and face: I
suppose you could not furnish me with a little soap and water."
"As much water as you please," said I, "but if you want soap, I
must go and trouble the young gentle-woman for some." "By no
means," said the postillion, "water will do at a pinch." "Follow
me," said I, and leading him to the pond of the frogs and newts, I
said, "this is my ewer; you are welcome to part of it--the water is
so soft that it is scarcely necessary to add soap to it;" then
lying down on the bank, I plunged my head into the water, then
scrubbed my hands and face, and afterwards wiped them with some
long grass which grew on the margin of the pond. "Bravo," said the
postillion, "I see you know how to make a shift:" he then followed
my example, declared he never felt more refreshed in his life, and,
giving a bound, said, "he would go and look after his horses."
We then went to look after the horses, which we found not much the
worse for having spent the night in the open air. My companion
again inserted their heads in the corn-bags, and, leaving the
animals to discuss their corn, returned with me to the dingle,
where we found the kettle boiling. We sat down, and Belle made tea
and did the honours of the meal. The postillion was in high
spirits, ate heartily, and, to Belle's evident satisfaction,
declared that he had never drank better tea in his life, or indeed
any half so good. Breakfast over, he said that he must now go and
harness his horses, as it was high time for him to return to his
inn. Belle gave him her hand and wished him farewell: the
postillion shook her hand warmly, and was advancing close up to
her--for what purpose I cannot say--whereupon Belle, withdrawing
her hand, drew herself up with an air which caused the postillion
to retreat a step or two with an exceedingly sheepish look.
Recovering himself, however, he made a low bow, and proceeded up
the path. I attended him, and helped to harness his horses and put
them to the vehicle; he then shook me by the hand, and taking the
reins and whip, mounted to his seat; ere he drove away he thus
addressed me: "If ever I forget your kindness and that of the
young woman below, dash my buttons. If ever either of you should
enter my inn you may depend upon a warm welcome, the best that can
be set before you, and no expense to either, for I will give both
of you the best of characters to the governor, who is the very best
fellow upon all the road. As for your linch-pin, I trust it will
serve till I get home, when I will take it out and keep it in
remembrance of you all the days of my life:" then giving the horses
a jerk with his reins, he cracked his whip and drove off.
I returned to the dingle, Belle had removed the breakfast things,
and was busy in her own encampment: nothing occurred, worthy of
being related, for two hours, at the end of which time Belle
departed on a short expedition, and I again found myself alone in
The Man in Black--The Emperor of Germany--Nepotism--Donna Olympia--
Omnipotence--Camillo Astalli--The Five Propositions.
In the evening I received another visit from the man in black. I
had been taking a stroll in the neighbourhood, and was sitting in
the dingle in rather a listless manner, scarcely knowing how to
employ myself; his coming, therefore, was by no means disagreeable
to me. I produced the hollands and glass from my tent, where
Isopel Berners had requested me to deposit them, and also some lump
sugar, then taking the gotch I fetched water from the spring, and,
sitting down, begged the man in black to help himself; he was not
slow in complying with my desire, and prepared for himself a glass
of hollands and water with a lump of sugar in it. After he had
taken two or three sips with evident satisfaction, I, remembering
his chuckling exclamation of "Go to Rome for money," when he last
left the dingle, took the liberty, after a little conversation, of
reminding him of it, whereupon, with a he! he! he! he replied,
"Your idea was not quite so original as I supposed. After leaving
you the other night, I remembered having read of an Emperor of
Germany who conceived the idea of applying to Rome for money, and
actually put it into practice.
"Urban the Eighth then occupied the papal chair, of the family of
the Barbarini, nicknamed the Mosche, or Flies, from the
circumstance of bees being their armorial bearing. The Emperor
having exhausted all his money in endeavouring to defend the church
against Gustavus Adolphus, the great King of Sweden, who was bent
on its destruction, applied in his necessity to the Pope for a loan
of money. The Pope, however, and his relations, whose cellars were
at that time full of the money of the church, which they had been
plundering for years, refused to lend him a scudo; whereupon a
pasquinade picture was stuck up at Rome, representing the church
lying on a bed, gashed with dreadful wounds, and beset all over
with flies, which were sucking her, whilst the Emperor of Germany
was kneeling before her with a miserable face, requesting a little
money towards carrying on the war against the heretics, to which
the poor church was made to say: 'How can I assist you, O my
champion, do you not see that the flies have sucked me to the very
bones?' Which story," said he, "shows that the idea of going to
Rome for money was not quite so original as I imagined the other
night, though utterly preposterous.
"This affair," said he, "occurred in what were called the days of
nepotism. Certain popes, who wished to make themselves in some
degree independent of the cardinals, surrounded themselves with
their nephews and the rest of their family, who sucked the church
and Christendom as much as they could, none doing so more
effectually than the relations of Urban the Eighth, at whose death,
according to the book called the 'Nipotismo di Roma,' there were in
the Barbarini family two hundred and twenty-seven governments,
abbeys and high dignities; and so much hard cash in their
possession, that threescore and ten mules were scarcely sufficient
to convey the plunder of one of them to Palestrina." He added,
however, that it was probable that Christendom fared better whilst
the popes were thus independent, as it was less sucked, whereas
before and after that period it was sucked by hundreds instead of
tens, by the cardinals and all their relations, instead of by the
pope and his nephews only.
Then, after drinking rather copiously of his hollands, he said that
it was certainly no bad idea of the popes to surround themselves
with nephews, on whom they bestowed great church dignities, as by
so doing they were tolerably safe from poison, whereas a pope, if
abandoned to the cardinals, might at any time be made away with by
them, provided they thought that he lived too long, or that he
seemed disposed to do anything which they disliked; adding, that
Ganganelli would never have been poisoned provided he had had
nephews about him to take care of his life, and to see that nothing
unholy was put into his food, or a bustling stirring brother's wife
like Donna Olympia. He then with a he! he! he! asked me if I had
ever read the book called the "Nipotismo di Roma"; and on my
replying in the negative, he told me that it was a very curious and
entertaining book, which he occasionally looked at in an idle hour,
and proceeded to relate to me anecdotes out of the "Nipotismo di
Roma," about the successor of Urban, Innocent the Tenth, and Donna
Olympia, showing how fond he was of her, and how she cooked his
food, and kept the cardinals away from it, and how she and her
creatures plundered Christendom, with the sanction of the Pope,
until Christendom, becoming enraged, insisted that he should put
her away, which he did for a time, putting a nephew--one Camillo
Astalli--in her place, in which, however, he did not continue long;
for the Pope, conceiving a pique against him, banished him from his
sight, and recalled Donna Olympia, who took care of his food, and
plundered Christendom until Pope Innocent died.
I said that I only wondered that between pope and cardinals the
whole system of Rome had not long fallen to the ground, and was
told, in reply, that its not having fallen was the strongest proof
of its vital power, and the absolute necessity for the existence of
the system. That the system, notwithstanding its occasional
disorders, went on. Popes and cardinals might prey upon its
bowels, and sell its interests, but the system survived. The
cutting off of this or that member was not able to cause Rome any
vital loss; for, as soon as she lost a member, the loss was
supplied by her own inherent vitality; though her popes had been
poisoned by cardinals, and her cardinals by popes; and though
priests occasionally poisoned popes, cardinals, and each other,
after all that had been, and might be, she had still, and would
ever have, her priests, cardinals, and pope.
Finding the man in black so communicative and reasonable, I
determined to make the best of my opportunity, and learn from him
all I could with respect to the papal system, and told him that he
would particularly oblige me by telling me who the Pope of Rome
was; and received for answer, that he was an old man elected by a
majority of cardinals to the papal chair; who, immediately after
his election, became omnipotent and equal to God on earth. On my
begging him not to talk such nonsense, and asking him how a person
could be omnipotent who could not always preserve himself from
poison, even when fenced round by nephews, or protected by a
bustling woman, he, after taking a long sip of hollands and water,
told me that I must not expect too much from omnipotence; for
example, that as it would be unreasonable to expect that One above
could annihilate the past--for instance, the Seven Years' War, or
the French Revolution--though any one who believed in Him would
acknowledge Him to be omnipotent, so would it be unreasonable for
the faithful to expect that the Pope could always guard himself
from poison. Then, after looking at me for a moment stedfastly,
and taking another sip, he told me that popes had frequently done
impossibilities; for example, Innocent the Tenth had created a
nephew; for, not liking particularly any of his real nephews, he
had created the said Camillo Astalli his nephew; asking me, with a
he! he! "What but omnipotence could make a young man nephew to a
person to whom he was not in the slightest degree related?" On my
observing that of course no one believed that the young fellow was
really the Pope's nephew, though the Pope might have adopted him as
such, the man in black replied, "that the reality of the nephewship
of Camillo Astalli had hitherto never become a point of faith; let,
however, the present pope, or any other pope, proclaim that it is
necessary to believe in the reality of the nephewship of Camillo
Astalli, and see whether the faithful would not believe in it. Who
can doubt that," he added, "seeing that they believe in the reality
of the five propositions of Jansenius? The Jesuits, wishing to
ruin the Jansenists, induced a pope to declare that such and such
damnable opinions, which they called five propositions, were to be
found in a book written by Jansen, though, in reality, no such
propositions were to be found there; whereupon the existence of
these propositions became forthwith a point of faith to the
faithful. Do you then think," he demanded, "that there is one of
the faithful who would not swallow, if called upon, the nephewship
of Camillo Astalli as easily as the five propositions of
Jansenius?" "Surely, then," said I, "the faithful must be a pretty
pack of simpletons!" Whereupon the man in black exclaimed, "What!
a Protestant, and an infringer of the rights of faith! Here's a
fellow, who would feel himself insulted if any one were to ask him
how he could believe in the miraculous conception, calling people
simpletons who swallow the five propositions of Jansenius, and are
disposed, if called upon, to swallow the reality of the nephewship
of Camillo Astalli."
I was about to speak, when I was interrupted by the arrival of
Belle. After unharnessing her donkey, and adjusting her person a
little, she came and sat down by us. In the meantime I had helped
my companion to some more hollands and water, and had plunged with
him into yet deeper discourse.
Necessity of Religion--The Great Indian One--Image-worship--
Shakespeare--The Pat Answer--Krishna--Amen.
Having told the man in black that I should like to know all the
truth with regard to the Pope and his system, he assured me he
should be delighted to give me all the information in his power;
that he had come to the dingle, not so much for the sake of the
good cheer which I was in the habit of giving him, as in the hope
of inducing me to enlist under the banners of Rome, and to fight in
her cause; and that he had no doubt that, by speaking out frankly
to me, he ran the best chance of winning me over.
He then proceeded to tell me that the experience of countless ages
had proved the necessity of religion; the necessity, he would
admit, was only for simpletons; but as nine-tenths of the dwellers
upon this earth were simpletons, it would never do for sensible
people to run counter to their folly, but, on the contrary, it was
their wisest course to encourage them in it, always provided that,
by so doing, sensible people would derive advantage; that the truly
sensible people of this world were the priests, who, without caring
a straw for religion for its own sake, made use of it as a cord by
which to draw the simpletons after them; that there were many
religions in this world, all of which had been turned to excellent
account by the priesthood; but that the one the best adapted for
the purposes of priestcraft was the popish, which, he said, was the
oldest in the world and the best calculated to endure. On my
inquiring what he meant by saying the popish religion was the
oldest in the world, whereas there could be no doubt that the Greek
and Roman religion had existed long before it, to say nothing of
the old Indian religion still in existence and vigour; he said,
with a nod, after taking a sip at his glass, that, between me and
him, the popish religion, that of Greece and Rome, and the old
Indian system were, in reality, one and the same.
"You told me that you intended to be frank," said I; "but, however
frank you may be, I think you are rather wild."
"We priests of Rome," said the man in black, "even those amongst us
who do not go much abroad, know a great deal about church matters,
of which you heretics have very little idea. Those of our brethren
of the Propaganda, on their return home from distant missions, not
unfrequently tell us very strange things relating to our dear
mother; for example, our first missionaries to the East were not
slow in discovering and telling to their brethren that our religion
and the great Indian one were identical, no more difference between
them than between Ram and Rome. Priests, convents, beads, prayers,
processions, fastings, penances, all the same, not forgetting
anchorites and vermin, he! he! The pope they found under the title
of the grand lama, a sucking child surrounded by an immense number
of priests. Our good brethren, some two hundred years ago, had a
hearty laugh, which their successors have often re-echoed; they
said that helpless suckling and its priests put them so much in
mind of their own old man, surrounded by his cardinals, he! he!
Old age is second childhood."
"Did they find Christ?" said I.
"They found him too," said the man in black, "that is, they saw his
image; he is considered in India as a pure kind of being, and on
that account, perhaps, is kept there rather in the background, even
as he is here."
"All this is very mysterious to me," said I.
"Very likely," said the man in black; "but of this I am tolerably
sure, and so are most of those of Rome, that modern Rome had its
religion from ancient Rome, which had its religion from the East."
"But how?" I demanded.
"It was brought about, I believe, by the wanderings of nations,"
said the man in black. "A brother of the Propaganda, a very
learned man, once told me--I do not mean Mezzofanti, who has not
five ideas--this brother once told me that all we of the Old World,
from Calcutta to Dublin, are of the same stock, and were originally
of the same language, and--"
"All of one religion," I put in.
"All of one religion," said the man in black; "and now follow
different modifications of the same religion."
"We Christians are not image-worshippers," said I.
"You heretics are not, you mean," said the man in black; "but you
will be put down, just as you have always been, though others may
rise up after you; the true religion is image-worship; people may
strive against it, but they will only work themselves to an oil;
how did it fare with that Greek Emperor, the Iconoclast, what was
his name, Leon the Isaurian? Did not his image-breaking cost him
Italy, the fairest province of his empire, and did not ten fresh
images start up at home for every one which he demolished? Oh! you
little know the craving which the soul sometimes feels after a good
"I have indeed no conception of it," said I; "I have an abhorrence
of idolatry--the idea of bowing before a graven figure!"
"The idea, indeed!" said Belle, who had now joined us.
"Did you never bow before that of Shakespeare?" said the man in
black, addressing himself to me, after a low bow to Belle.
"I don't remember that I ever did," said I, "but even suppose I
"Suppose you did," said the man in black; "shame on you, Mr. Hater
of Idolatry; why, the very supposition brings you to the ground;
you must make figures of Shakespeare, must you? then why not of St.
Antonio, or Ignacio, or of a greater personage still! I know what
you are going to say," he cried, interrupting me, as I was about to
speak. "You don't make his image in order to pay it divine
honours, but only to look at it, and think of Shakespeare; but this
looking at a thing in order to think of a person is the very basis
of idolatry. Shakespeare's works are not sufficient for you; no
more are the Bible or the legend of Saint Anthony or Saint Ignacio
for us, that is for those of us who believe in them; I tell you,
Zingara, that no religion can exist long which rejects a good
"Do you think," said I, "that Shakespeare's works would not exist
without his image?"
"I believe," said the man in black, "that Shakespeare's image is
looked at more than his works, and will be looked at, and perhaps
adored, when they are forgotten. I am surprised that they have not
been forgotten long ago; I am no admirer of them."
"But I can't imagine," said I, "how you will put aside the
authority of Moses. If Moses strove against image-worship, should
not his doing so be conclusive as to the impropriety of the
practice: what higher authority can you have than that of Moses?"
"The practice of the great majority of the human race," said the
man in black, "and the recurrence to image-worship where image-
worship has been abolished. Do you know that Moses is considered
by the church as no better than a heretic, and though, for
particular reasons, it has been obliged to adopt his writings, the
adoption was merely a sham one, as it never paid the slightest
attention to them? No, no, the church was never led by Moses, nor
by one mightier than he, whose doctrine it has equally nullified--I
allude to Krishna in his second avatar; the church, it is true,
governs in his name, but not unfrequently gives him the lie, if he
happens to have said anything which it dislikes. Did you never
hear the reply which Padre Paolo Segani made to the French
Protestant Jean Anthoine Guerin, who had asked him whether it was
easier for Christ to have been mistaken in his Gospel, than for the
Pope to be mistaken in his decrees?"
"I never heard their names before," said I.
"The answer was pat," said the man in black, "though he who made it
was confessedly the most ignorant fellow of the very ignorant order
to which he belonged, the Augustine. 'Christ might err as a man,'
said he, 'but the Pope can never err, being God.' The whole story
is related in the Nipotismo."
"I wonder you should ever have troubled yourself with Christ at
all," said I.
"What was to be done?" said the man in black; "the power of that
name suddenly came over Europe, like the power of a mighty wind; it
was said to have come from Judea, and from Judea it probably came
when it first began to agitate minds in these parts; but it seems
to have been known in the remote East, more or less, for thousands
of years previously. It filled people's minds with madness; it was
followed by books which were never much regarded, as they contained
little of insanity; but the name! what fury that breathed into
people! the books were about peace and gentleness, but the name was
the most horrible of war-cries--those who wished to uphold old
names at first strove to oppose it, but their efforts were feeble,
and they had no good war-cry; what was Mars as a war-cry compared
with the name of . . . ? It was said that they persecuted
terribly, but who said so? The Christians. The Christians could
have given them a lesson in the art of persecution, and eventually
did so. None but Christians have ever been good persecutors; well,
the old religion succumbed, Christianity prevailed, for the
ferocious is sure to prevail over the gentle."
"I thought," said I, "you stated a little time ago that the Popish
religion and the ancient Roman are the same?"
"In every point but that name, that Krishna and the fury and love
of persecution which it inspired," said the man in black. "A hot
blast came from the East, sounding Krishna; it absolutely maddened
people's minds, and the people would call themselves his children;
we will not belong to Jupiter any longer, we will belong to
Krishna, and they did belong to Krishna; that is in name, but in
nothing else; for who ever cared for Krishna in the Christian
world, or who ever regarded the words attributed to him, or put
them in practice?"
"Why, we Protestants regard his words, and endeavour to practise
what they enjoin as much as possible."
"But you reject his image," sad the man in black; "better reject
his words than his image: no religion can exist long which rejects
a good bodily image. Why, the very negro barbarians of High
Barbary could give you a lesson on that point; they have their
fetish images, to which they look for help in their afflictions;
they have likewise a high priest, whom they call--"
"Mumbo Jumbo," said I; "I know all about him already."
"How came you to know anything about him?" said the man in black,
with a look of some surprise.
"Some of us poor Protestants tinkers," said I, "though we live in
dingles, are also acquainted with a thing or two."
"I really believe you are," said the man in black, staring at me;
"but, in connection with this Mumbo Jumbo, I could relate to you a
comical story about a fellow, an English servant, I once met at
"It would be quite unnecessary," said I; "I would much sooner hear
you talk about Krishna, his words and image."
"Spoken like a true heretic," said the man in black; "one of the
faithful would have placed his image before his words; for what are
all the words in the world compared with a good bodily image!"
"I believe you occasionally quote his words?" said I.
"He! he!" said the man in black; "occasionally."
"For example," said I, "upon this rock I will found my church."
"He! he!" said the man in black; "you must really become one of
"Yet you must have had some difficulty in getting the rock to
"None whatever," said the man in black; "faith can remove
mountains, to say nothing of rocks--ho! ho!"
"But I cannot imagine," said I, "what advantage you could derive
from perverting those words of Scripture in which the Saviour talks
about eating his body."
"I do not know, indeed, why we troubled our heads about the matter
at all," said the man in black; "but when you talk about perverting
the meaning of the text, you speak ignorantly, Mr. Tinker; when he
whom you call the Saviour gave his followers the sop, and bade them
eat it, telling them it was his body, he delicately alluded to what
it was incumbent upon them to do after his death, namely, to eat
"You do not mean to say that he intended they should actually eat
"Then you suppose ignorantly," said the man in black; "eating the
bodies of the dead was a heathenish custom, practised by the heirs
and legatees of people who left property; and this custom is
alluded to in the text."
"But what has the New Testament to do with heathen customs," said
I, "except to destroy them?"
"More than you suppose," said the man in black. "We priests of
Rome, who have long lived at Rome, know much better what the New
Testament is made of than the heretics and their theologians, not
forgetting their Tinkers; though I confess some of the latter have
occasionally surprised us--for example, Bunyan. The New Testament
is crowded with allusions to heathen customs, and with words
connected with pagan sorcery. Now, with respect to words, I would
fain have you, who pretend to be a philologist, tell me the meaning
I made no answer.
"We of Rome," said the man in black, "know two or three things of
which the heretics are quite ignorant; for example, there are those
amongst us--those, too, who do not pretend to be philologists--who
know what Amen is, and, moreover, how we got it. We got it from
our ancestors, the priests of ancient Rome; and they got the word
from their ancestors of the East, the priests of Buddh and Brahma."
"And what is the meaning of the word?" I demanded.
"Amen," said the man in black, "is a modification of the old Hindoo
formula, Omani batsikhom, by the almost ceaseless repetition of
which the Indians hope to be received finally to the rest or state
of forgetfulness of Buddh or Brahma; a foolish practice you will
say, but are you heretics much wiser, who are continually sticking
Amen to the end of your prayers, little knowing when you do so,
that you are consigning yourselves to the repose of Buddh! Oh,
what hearty laughs our missionaries have had when comparing the
eternally-sounding Eastern gibberish of Omani batsikhom, Omani
batsikhom, and the Ave Maria and Amen Jesus of our own idiotical
"I have nothing to say about the Ave Marias and Amens of your
superstitious devotees," said I; "I dare say that they use them
nonsensically enough, but in putting Amen to the end of a prayer,
we merely intend to express, 'So let it be.'"
"It means nothing of the kind," said the man in black; "and the
Hindoos might just as well put your national oath at the end of
their prayers, as perhaps they will after a great many thousand
years, when English is forgotten, and only a few words of it
remembered by dim tradition without being understood. How strange
if, after the lapse of four thousand years, the Hindoos should damn
themselves to the blindness so dear to their present masters, even
as their masters at present consign themselves to the forgetfulness
so dear to the Hindoos; but my glass has been empty for a
considerable time; perhaps, Bellissima Biondina," said he,
addressing Belle, "you will deign to replenish it?"
"I shall do no such thing," said Belle, "you have drunk quite
enough, and talked more than enough, and to tell you the truth I
wish you would leave us alone."
"Shame on you, Belle," said I; "consider the obligations of
"I am sick of that word," said Belle, "you are so frequently
misusing it; were this place not Mumpers' Dingle, and consequently
as free to the fellow as ourselves, I would lead him out of it."
"Pray be quiet, Belle," said I. "You had better help yourself,"
said I, addressing myself to the man in black, "the lady is angry
"I am sorry for it," said the man in black; "if she is angry with
me, I am not so with her, and shall be always proud to wait upon
her; in the meantime, I will wait upon myself."
The Proposal--The Scotch Novel--Latitude--Miracles--Pestilent
Heretics--Old Fraser--Wonderful Texts--No Armenian.
The man in black having helped himself to some more of his
favourite beverage, and tasted it, I thus addressed him: "The
evening is getting rather advanced, and I can see that this lady,"
pointing to Belle, "is anxious for her tea, which she prefers to
take cosily and comfortably with me in the dingle: the place, it
is true, is as free to you as to ourselves, nevertheless, as we are
located here by necessity, whilst you merely come as a visitor, I
must take the liberty of telling you that we shall be glad to be
alone, as soon as you have said what you have to say, and have
finished the glass of refreshment at present in your hand. I think
you said some time ago that one of your motives for coming hither
was to induce me to enlist under the banner of Rome. I wish to
know whether that was really the case?"
"Decidedly so," said the man in black; "I come here principally in
the hope of enlisting you in our regiment, in which I have no doubt
you could do us excellent service."
"Would you enlist my companion as well?" I demanded.
"We should be only too proud to have her among us, whether she
comes with you or alone," said the man in black, with a polite bow
"Before we give you an answer," I replied, "I would fain know more
about you; perhaps you will declare your name?"
"That I will never do," said the man in black; "no one in England
knows it but myself, and I will not declare it, even in a dingle;
as for the rest, Sono un Prete Cattolico Appostolico--that is all
that many a one of us can say for himself, and it assuredly means a
"We will now proceed to business," said I. "You must be aware that
we English are generally considered a self-interested people."
"And with considerable justice," said the man in black, drinking.
"Well, you are a person of acute perception, and I will presently
make it evident to you that it would be to your interest to join
with us. You are at present, evidently, in very needy
circumstances, and are lost, not only to yourself, but to the
world; but should you enlist with us, I could find you an
occupation not only agreeable, but one in which your talents would
have free scope. I would introduce you in the various grand houses
here in England, to which I have myself admission, as a surprising
young gentleman of infinite learning, who by dint of study has
discovered that the Roman is the only true faith. I tell you
confidently that our popish females would make a saint, nay, a God
of you; they are fools enough for anything. There is one person in
particular with whom I would wish to make you acquainted, in the
hope that you would be able to help me to perform good service to
the holy see. He is a gouty old fellow, of some learning, residing
in an old hall, near the great western seaport, and is one of the
very few amongst the English Catholics possessing a grain of sense.
I think you could help us to govern him, for he is not unfrequently
disposed to be restive, asks us strange questions--occasionally
threatens us with his crutch; and behaves so that we are often
afraid that we shall lose him, or, rather, his property, which he
has bequeathed to us, and which is enormous. I am sure that you
could help us to deal with him; sometimes with your humour,
sometimes with your learning, and perhaps occasionally with your
"And in what manner would you provide for my companion?" said I.
"We would place her at once," said the man in black, "in the house
of two highly respectable Catholic ladies in this neighbourhood,
where she would be treated with every care and consideration till
her conversion should be accomplished in a regular manner; we would
then remove her to a female monastic establishment, where, after
undergoing a year's probation, during which time she would be
instructed in every elegant accomplishment, she should take the
veil. Her advancement would speedily follow, for, with such a face
and figure, she would make a capital lady abbess, especially in
Italy, to which country she would probably be sent; ladies of her
hair and complexion--to say nothing of her height--being a
curiosity in the south. With a little care and management she
could soon obtain a vast reputation for sanctity; and who knows but
after her death she might become a glorified saint--he! he! Sister
Maria Theresa, for that is the name I propose you should bear.
Holy Mother Maria Theresa--glorified and celestial saint, I have
the honour of drinking to your health," and the man in black drank.
"Well, Belle," said I, "what have you to say to the gentleman's
"That if he goes on in this way I will break his glass against his
"You have heard the lady's answer," said I.
"I have," said the man in black, "and shall not press the matter.
I can't help, however, repeating that she would make a capital lady
abbess; she would keep the nuns in order, I warrant her; no easy
matter! Break the glass against my mouth--he! he! How she would
send the holy utensils flying at the nuns' heads occasionally, and
just the person to wring the nose of Satan, should he venture to
appear one night in her cell in the shape of a handsome black man.
No offence, madam, no offence, pray retain your seat," said he,
observing that Belle had started up; "I mean no offence. Well, if
you will not consent to be an abbess, perhaps you will consent to
follow this young Zingaro, and to co-operate with him and us. I am
a priest, madam, and can join you both in an instant, connubio
stabili, as I suppose the knot has not been tied already."
"Hold your mumping gibberish," said Belle, "and leave the dingle
this moment, for though 'tis free to every one, you have no right
to insult me in it."
"Pray be pacified," said I to Belle, getting up, and placing myself
between her and the man in black, "he will presently leave, take my
word for it--there, sit down again," said I, as I led her to her
seat; then, resuming my own, I said to the man in black: "I advise
you to leave the dingle as soon as possible."
"I should wish to have your answer to my proposal first," said he.
"Well, then, here you shall have it: I will not entertain your
proposal; I detest your schemes: they are both wicked and
"Wicked," said the man in black, "have they not--he! he!--the
furtherance of religion in view?"
"A religion," said I, "in which you yourself do not believe, and
which you contemn."
"Whether I believe in it or not," said the man in black, "it is
adapted for the generality of the human race; so I will forward it,
and advise you to do the same. It was nearly extirpated in these
regions, but it is springing up again, owing to circumstances.
Radicalism is a good friend to us; all the liberals laud up our
system out of hatred to the Established Church, though our system
is ten times less liberal than the Church of England. Some of them
have really come over to us. I myself confess a baronet who
presided over the first radical meeting ever held in England--he
was an atheist when he came over to us, in the hope of mortifying
his own church--but he is now--ho! ho!--a real Catholic devotee--
quite afraid of my threats; I make him frequently scourge himself
before me. Well, Radicalism does us good service, especially
amongst the lower classes, for Radicalism chiefly flourishes
amongst them; for though a baronet or two may be found amongst the
radicals, and perhaps as many lords--fellows who have been
discarded by their own order for clownishness, or something they
have done--it incontestably flourishes best among the lower orders.
Then the love of what is foreign is a great friend to us; this love
is chiefly confined to the middle and upper classes. Some admire
the French, and imitate them; others must needs be Spaniards, dress
themselves up in a zamarra, stick a cigar in their mouth, and say,
'Carajo.' Others would pass for Germans; he! he! the idea of any
one wishing to pass for a German! but what has done us more service
than anything else in these regions--I mean amidst the middle
classes--has been the novel, the Scotch novel. The good folks,
since they have read the novels, have become Jacobites; and,
because all the Jacobs were Papists, the good folks must become
Papists also, or, at least, papistically inclined. The very Scotch
Presbyterians, since they have read the novels, are become all but
Papists; I speak advisedly, having lately been amongst them.
There's a trumpery bit of a half papist sect, called the Scotch
Episcopalian Church, which lay dormant and nearly forgotten for
upwards of a hundred years, which has of late got wonderfully into
fashion in Scotland, because, forsooth, some of the long-haired
gentry of the novels were said to belong to it, such as Montrose
and Dundee; and to this the Presbyterians are going over in
throngs, traducing and vilifying their own forefathers, or denying
them altogether, and calling themselves descendants of--ho! ho!
ho!--Scottish Cavaliers!!! I have heard them myself repeating
snatches of Jacobite ditties about 'Bonnie Dundee,' and -
"'Come, fill up my cup, and fill up my can,
And saddle my horse, and call up my man.'
There's stuff for you! Not that I object to the first part of the
ditty. It is natural enough that a Scotchman should cry, 'Come,
fill up my cup!' more especially if he's drinking at another
person's expense--all Scotchmen being fond of liquor at free cost:
but 'Saddle his horse!!!'--for what purpose, I would ask? Where is
the use of saddling a horse, unless you can ride him? and where was
there ever a Scotchman who could ride?"
"Of course you have not a drop of Scotch blood in your veins," said
I, "otherwise you would never have uttered that last sentence."
"Don't be too sure of that," said the man in black; "you know
little of Popery if you imagine that it cannot extinguish love of
country, even in a Scotchman. A thorough-going Papist--and who
more thorough-going than myself?--cares nothing for his country;
and why should he? he belongs to a system, and not to a country."
"One thing," said I, "connected with you, I cannot understand; you
call yourself a thorough-going Papist, yet are continually saying
the most pungent things against Popery, and turning to unbounded
ridicule those who show any inclination to embrace it."
"Rome is a very sensible old body," said the man in black, "and
little cares what her children say, provided they do her bidding.
She knows several things, and amongst others, that no servants work
so hard and faithfully as those who curse their masters at every
stroke they do. She was not fool enough to be angry with the
Miquelets of Alba, who renounced her, and called her 'puta' all the
time they were cutting the throats of the Netherlanders. Now, if
she allowed her faithful soldiers the latitude of renouncing her,
and calling her 'puta' in the market-place, think not she is so
unreasonable as to object to her faithful priests occasionally
calling her 'puta' in the dingle."
"But," said I, "suppose some one were to tell the world some of the
disorderly things which her priests say in the dingle?"
"He would have the fate of Cassandra," said the man in black; "no
one would believe him--yes, the priests would: but they would make
no sign of belief. They believe in the Alcoran des Cordeliers--
that is, those who have read it; but they make no sign."
"A pretty system," said I, "which extinguishes love of country and
of everything noble, and brings the minds of its ministers to a
parity with those of devils, who delight in nothing but mischief."
"The system," said the man in black, "is a grand one, with
unbounded vitality. Compare it with your Protestantism, and you
will see the difference. Popery is ever at work, whilst
Protestantism is supine. A pretty church, indeed, the Protestant!
Why, it can't even work a miracle."
"Can your church work miracles?" I demanded.
"That was the very question," said the man in black, "which the
ancient British clergy asked of Austin Monk, after they had been
fools enough to acknowledge their own inability. 'We don't pretend
to work miracles; do you?' 'Oh! dear me, yes,' said Austin; 'we
find no difficulty in the matter. We can raise the dead, we can
make the blind see; and to convince you, I will give sight to the
blind. Here is this blind Saxon, whom you cannot cure, but on
whose eyes I will manifest my power, in order to show the
difference between the true and the false church;' and forthwith,
with the assistance of a handkerchief and a little hot water, he
opened the eyes of the barbarian. So we manage matters! A pretty
church, that old British church, which could not work miracles--
quite as helpless as the modern one. The fools! was birdlime so
scarce a thing amongst them?--and were the properties of warm water
so unknown to them, that they could not close a pair of eyes and
"It's a pity," said I, "that the British clergy at that interview
with Austin, did not bring forward a blind Welshman, and ask the
monk to operate upon him."
"Clearly," said the man in black; "that's what they ought to have
done; but they were fools without a single resource." Here he took
a sip at his glass.
"But they did not believe in the miracle?" said I.
"And what did their not believing avail them?" said the man in
black. "Austin remained master of the field, and they went away
holding their heads down, and muttering to themselves. What a fine
subject for a painting would be Austin's opening the eyes of the
Saxon barbarian, and the discomfiture of the British clergy! I
wonder it has not been painted!--he! he!"
"I suppose your church still performs miracles occasionally!" said
"It does," said the man in black. "The Rev.--has lately been
performing miracles in Ireland, destroying devils that had got
possession of people; he has been eminently successful. In two
instances he not only destroyed the devils, but the lives of the
people possessed--he! he! Oh! there is so much energy in our
system; we are always at work, whilst Protestantism is supine."
"You must not imagine," said I, "that all Protestants are supine;
some of them appear to be filled with unbounded zeal. They deal,
it is true, not in lying miracles, but they propagate God's Word.
I remember only a few months ago, having occasion for a Bible,
going to an establishment, the object of which was to send Bibles
all over the world. The supporters of that establishment could
have no self-interested views; for I was supplied by them with a
noble-sized Bible at a price so small as to preclude the idea that
it could bring any profit to the vendors."
The countenance of the man in black slightly fell. "I know the
people to whom you allude," said he; "indeed, unknown to them, I
have frequently been to see them, and observed their ways. I tell
you frankly that there is not a set of people in this kingdom who
have caused our church so much trouble and uneasiness. I should
rather say that they alone cause us any; for as for the rest, what
with their drowsiness, their plethora, their folly and their
vanity, they are doing us anything but mischief. These fellows are
a pestilent set of heretics, whom we would gladly see burnt; they
are, with the most untiring perseverance, and in spite of divers
minatory declarations of the holy father, scattering their books
abroad through all Europe, and have caused many people in Catholic
countries to think that hitherto their priesthood have endeavoured,
as much as possible, to keep them blinded. There is one fellow
amongst them for whom we entertain a particular aversion; a big,
burly parson, with the face of a lion, the voice of a buffalo, and
a fist like a sledge-hammer. The last time I was there, I observed
that his eye was upon me, and I did not like the glance he gave me
at all; I observed him clench his fist, and I took my departure as
fast as I conveniently could. Whether he suspected who I was, I
know not; but I did not like his look at all, and do not intend to
"Well, then," said I, "you confess that you have redoubtable
enemies to your plans in these regions, and that even amongst the
ecclesiastics there are some widely different from those of the
plethoric and Platitude schools?"
"It is but too true," said the man in black; "and if the rest of
your church were like them we should quickly bid adieu to all hope
of converting these regions, but we are thankful to be able to say
that such folks are not numerous; there are, moreover, causes at
work quite sufficient to undermine even their zeal. Their sons
return at the vacations, from Oxford and Cambridge, puppies, full
of the nonsense which they have imbibed from Platitude professors;
and this nonsense they retail at home, where it fails not to make
some impression, whilst the daughters scream--I beg their pardons--
warble about Scotland's Montrose and Bonny Dundee, and all the
Jacobs; so we have no doubt that their papas' zeal about the
propagation of such a vulgar book as the Bible will in a very
little time be terribly diminished. Old Rome will win, so you had
better join her."
And the man in black drained the last drop in his glass.
"Never," said I, "will I become the slave of Rome."
"She will allow you latitude," said the man in black; "do but serve
her, and she will allow you to call her 'puta' at a decent time and
place, her popes occasionally call her 'puta.' A pope has been
known to start from his bed at midnight and rush out into the
corridor, and call out 'puta' three times in a voice which pierced
the Vatican; that pope was--"
"Alexander the Sixth, I dare say," said I; "the greatest monster
that ever existed, though the worthiest head which the pope system
ever had--so his conscience was not always still. I thought it had
been seared with a brand of iron."
"I did not allude to him, but to a much more modern pope," said the
man in black; "it is true he brought the word, which is Spanish,
from Spain, his native country, to Rome. He was very fond of
calling the church by that name, and other popes have taken it up.
She will allow you to call her by it, if you belong to her."
"I shall call her so," said I, "without belonging to her, or asking
"She will allow you to treat her as such, if you belong to her,"
said the man in black; "there is a chapel in Rome, where there is a
wondrously fair statue--the son of a cardinal--I mean his nephew--
once--Well, she did not cut off his head, but slightly boxed his
cheek and bade him go."
"I have read all about that in 'Keysler's Travels,'" said I; "do
you tell her that I would not touch her with a pair of tongs,
unless to seize her nose."
"She is fond of lucre," said the man in black; "but does not grudge
a faithful priest a little private perquisite," and he took out a
very handsome gold repeater.
"Are you not afraid," said I, "to flash that watch before the eyes
of a poor tinker in a dingle?"
"Not before the eyes of one like you," said the man in black.
"It is getting late," said I; "I care not for perquisites."
"So you will not join us?" said the man in black.
"You have had my answer," said I.
"If I belong to Rome," said the man in black, "why should not you?"
"I may be a poor tinker," said I; "but I may never have undergone
what you have. You remember, perhaps, the fable of the fox who had
lost his tail?"
The man in black winced, but almost immediately recovering himself,
he said, "Well, we can do without you, we are sure of winning."
"It is not the part of wise people," said I, "to make sure of the
battle before it is fought: there's the landlord of the public-
house, who made sure that his cocks would win, yet the cocks lost
the main, and the landlord is little better than a bankrupt."
"People very different from the landlord," said the man in black,
"both in intellect and station, think we shall surely win; there
are clever machinators among us who have no doubt of our success."
"Well," said I, "I will set the landlord aside, and will adduce one
who was in every point a very different person from the landlord,
both in understanding and station; he was very fond of laying
schemes, and, indeed, many of them turned out successful. His last
and darling one, however, miscarried, notwithstanding that by his
calculations he had persuaded himself that there was no possibility
of its failing--the person that I allude to was old Fraser--"
"Who?" said the man in black, giving a start, and letting his glass
"Old Fraser, of Lovat," said I, "the prince of all conspirators and
machinators; he made sure of placing the Pretender on the throne of
these realms. 'I can bring into the field so many men,' said he;
'my son-in-law Cluny, so many, and likewise my cousin, and my good
friend;' then speaking of those on whom the government reckoned for
support, he would say, 'So and so are lukewarm, this person is
ruled by his wife, who is with us, the clergy are anything but
hostile to us, and as for the soldiers and sailors, half are
disaffected to King George, and the rest cowards.' Yet when things
came to a trial, this person whom he had calculated upon to join
the Pretender did not stir from his home, another joined the
hostile ranks, the presumed cowards turned out heroes, and those
whom he thought heroes ran away like lusty fellows at Culloden; in
a word, he found himself utterly mistaken, and in nothing more than
in himself; he thought he was a hero, and proved himself nothing
more than an old fox; he got up a hollow tree, didn't he, just like
"'L'opere sue non furon leonine, ma di volpe.'"
The man in black sat silent for a considerable time, and at length
answered in rather a faltering voice, "I was not prepared for this;
you have frequently surprised me by your knowledge of things which
I should never have expected any person of your appearance to be
acquainted with, but that you should be aware of my name is a
circumstance utterly incomprehensible to me. I had imagined that
no person in England was acquainted with it; indeed, I don't see
how any person should be, I have revealed it to no one, not being
particularly proud of it. Yes, I acknowledge that my name is
Fraser, and that I am of the blood of that family or clan, of which
the rector of our college once said, that he was firmly of opinion
that every individual member was either rogue or fool. I was born
at Madrid, of pure, oime, Fraser blood. My parents, at an early
age, took me to -, where they shortly died, not, however, before
they had placed me in the service of a cardinal, with whom I
continued for some years, and who, when he had no further occasion
for me, sent me to the college, in the left-hand cloister of which,
as you enter, rest the bones of Sir John -; there, in studying
logic and humane letters, I lost whatever of humanity I had
retained when discarded by the cardinal. Let me not, however,
forget two points,--I am a Fraser, it is true, but not a Flannagan;
I may bear the vilest name of Britain, but not of Ireland; I was
bred up at the English house, and there is at--a house for the
education of bogtrotters; I was not bred up at that; beneath the
lowest gulf, there is one yet lower; whatever my blood may be, it
is at least not Irish; whatever my education may have been, I was
not bred at the Irish seminary--on those accounts I am thankful--
yes, per dio! I am thankful. After some years at college--but why
should I tell you my history? you know it already perfectly well,
probably much better than myself. I am now a missionary priest,
labouring in heretic England, like Parsons and Garnet of old, save
and except that, unlike them, I run no danger, for the times are
changed. As I told you before, I shall cleave to Rome--I must; no
hay remedio, as they say at Madrid, and I will do my best to
further her holy plans--he! he!--but I confess I begin to doubt of
their being successful here--you put me out; old Fraser, of Lovat!
I have heard my father talk of him; he had a gold-headed cane, with
which he once knocked my grandfather down--he was an astute one,
but, as you say, mistaken, particularly in himself. I have read
his life by Arbuthnot, it is in the library of our college.
Farewell! I shall come no more to this dingle--to come would be of
no utility; I shall go and labour elsewhere, though--how you came
to know my name, is a fact quite inexplicable--farewell! to you
He then arose; and without further salutation departed from the
dingle, in which I never saw him again. "How, in the name of
wonder, came you to know that man's name?" said Belle, after he had
been gone some time.
"I, Belle? I knew nothing of the fellow's name, I assure you."
"But you mentioned his name."
"If I did, it was merely casually, by way of illustration. I was
saying how frequently cunning people were mistaken in their
calculations, and I adduced the case of old Fraser, of Lovat, as
one in point; I brought forward his name, because I was well
acquainted with his history, from having compiled and inserted it
in a wonderful work, which I edited some months ago, entitled
'Newgate Lives and Trials,' but without the slightest idea that it
was the name of him who was sitting with us; he, however, thought
that I was aware of his name. Belle! Belle! for a long time I
doubted the truth of Scripture, owing to certain conceited
individuals, but now I begin to believe firmly; what wonderful
texts are in Scripture, Belle; 'The wicked trembleth where--where--
"'They were afraid where no fear was; thou hast put them to
confusion, because God hath despised them,'" said Belle; "I have
frequently read it before the clergyman in the great house of Long
Melford. But if you did not know the man's name, why let him go
away supposing that you did?"
"Oh, if he was fool enough to make such a mistake, I was not going
to undeceive him--no, no! Let the enemies of old England make the
most of all their blunders and mistakes, they will have no help
from me; but enough of the fellow, Belle; let us now have tea, and
"No Armenian," said Belle; "but I want to ask a question: pray are
all people of that man's name either rogues or fools?"
"It is impossible for me to say, Belle, this person being the only
one of the name I have ever personally known. I suppose there are
good and bad, clever and foolish, amongst them, as amongst all
large bodies of people; however, after the tribe had been governed
for upwards of thirty years, by such a person as old Fraser, it
were no wonder if the greater part had become either rogues or
fools: he was a ruthless tyrant, Belle, over his own people, and
by his cruelty and rapaciousness must either have stunned them into
an apathy approaching to idiotcy, or made them artful knaves in
their own defence. The qualities of parents are generally
transmitted to their descendants--the progeny of trained pointers
are almost sure to point, even without being taught: if,
therefore, all Frasers are either rogues or fools, as this person
seems to insinuate, it is little to be wondered at, their parents
or grandparents having been in the training-school of old Fraser!
But enough of the old tyrant and his slaves. Belle, prepare tea
this moment, or dread my anger. I have not a gold-headed cane like
old Fraser of Lovat, but I have, what some people would dread much
more, an Armenian rune-stick."
Fresh Arrivals--Pitching the Tent--Certificated Wife--High-flying
On the following morning, as I was about to leave my tent, I heard
the voice of Belle at the door, exclaiming, "Sleepest thou, or
wakest thou?" "I was never more awake in my life," said I, going
out. "What is the matter?" "He of the horse-shoe," said she,
"Jasper, of whom I have heard you talk, is above there on the field
with all his people; I went out about a quarter of an hour ago to
fill the kettle at the spring, and saw them arriving. "It is
well," said I; "have you any objection to asking him and his wife
to breakfast?" "You can do as you please," said she; "I have cups
enough, and have no objection to their company." "We are the first
occupiers of the ground," said I, "and, being so, should consider
ourselves in the light of hosts, and do our best to practise the
duties of hospitality." "How fond you are of using that word,"
said Belle; "if you wish to invite the man and his wife, do so,
without more ado; remember, however, that I have not cups enough,
nor indeed tea enough, for the whole company." Thereupon hurrying
up the ascent, I presently found myself outside the dingle. It was
as usual a brilliant morning, the dewy blades of the rye-grass
which covered the plain sparkled brightly in the beams of the sun,
which had probably been about two hours above the horizon. A
rather numerous body of my ancient friends and allies occupied the
ground in the vicinity of the mouth of the dingle. About five
yards on the right I perceived Mr. Petulengro busily employed in
erecting his tent; he held in his hand an iron bar, sharp at the
bottom, with a kind of arm projecting from the top for the purpose
of supporting a kettle or cauldron over the fire, and which is
called in the Romanian language "Kekauviskoe saster." With the
sharp end of this Mr. Petulengro was making holes in the earth, at
about twenty inches distant from each other, into which he inserted
certain long rods with a considerable bend towards the top, which
constituted no less than the timber of the tent, and the supporters
of the canvas. Mrs. Petulengro, and a female with a crutch in her
hand, whom I recognised as Mrs. Chikno, sat near him on the ground,
whilst two or three children, from six to ten years old, who
composed the young family of Mr. and Mrs. Petulengro, were playing
"Here we are, brother," said Mr. Petulengro, as he drove the sharp
end of the bar into the ground; "here we are, and plenty of us--
Bute dosta Romany chals."
"I am glad to see you all," said I; "and particularly you, madam,"
said I, making a bow to Mrs. Petulengro; "and you also, madam,"
taking off my hat to Mrs. Chikno.
"Good-day to you, sir," said Mrs. Petulengro; "you look, as usual,
charmingly, and speak so, too; you have not forgot your manners."
"It is not all gold that glitters," said Mrs. Chikno. "However,
good-morrow to you, young rye."
"I do not see Tawno," said I, looking around; "where is he?"
"Where, indeed!" said Mrs. Chikno; "I don't know; he who
countenances him in the roving line can best answer."
"He will be here anon," said Mr. Petulengro; "he has merely ridden
down a by-road to show a farmer a two-year-old colt; she heard me
give him directions, but she can't be satisfied."
"I can't indeed," said Mrs. Chikno.
"And why not, sister?"
"Because I place no confidence in your words, brother; as I said
before, you countenances him."
"Well," said I, "I know nothing of your private concerns; I am come
on an errand. Isopel Berners, down in the dell there, requests the
pleasure of Mr. and Mrs. Petulengro's company at breakfast. She
will be happy also to see you, madam," said I, addressing Mrs.
"Is that young female your wife, young man?" said Mrs. Chikno.
"My wife?" said I.
"Yes, young man; your wife, your lawful certificated wife?"
"No," said I; "she is not my wife."
"Then I will not visit with her," said Mrs. Chikno; "I countenance
nothing in the roving line."
"What do you mean by the roving line?" I demanded.
"What do I mean by the roving line? Why, by it I mean such conduct
as is not tatcheno. When ryes and rawnies live together in
dingles, without being certificated, I call such behaviour being
tolerably deep in the roving line, everything savouring of which I
am determined not to sanctify. I have suffered too much by my own
certificated husband's outbreaks in that line to afford anything of
the kind the slightest shadow of countenance."
"It is hard that people may not live in dingles together without
being suspected of doing wrong," said I.
"So it is," said Mrs. Petulengro, interposing; "and, to tell you
the truth, I am altogether surprised at the illiberality of my
sister's remarks. I have often heard say, that it is in good
company--and I have kept good company in my time--that suspicion is
king's evidence of a narrow and uncultivated mind; on which account
I am suspicious of nobody, not even of my own husband, whom some
people would think I have a right to be suspicious of, seeing that
on his account I once refused a lord; but ask him whether I am
suspicious of him, and whether I seek to keep him close tied to my
apron-string; he will tell you nothing of the kind; but that, on
the contrary, I always allows him an agreeable latitude, permitting
him to go where he pleases, and to converse with any one to whose
manner of speaking he may take a fancy. But I have had the
advantage of keeping good company, and therefore--"
"Meklis," said Mrs. Chikno, "pray drop all that, sister; I believe
I have kept as good company as yourself; and with respect to that
offer with which you frequently fatigue those who keeps company
with you, I believe, after all, it was something in the roving and
"In whatever line it was," said Mrs. Petulengro, "the offer was a
good one. The young duke--for he was not only a lord, but a duke
too--offered to keep me a fine carriage, and to make me his second
wife; for it is true that he had another who was old and stout,
though mighty rich, and highly good-natured; so much so, indeed,
that the young lord assured me that she would have no manner of
objection to the arrangement; more especially if I would consent to
live in the same house with her, being fond of young and cheerful
society. So you see--"
"Yes, yes," said Mrs. Chikno, "I see, what I before thought, that
it was altogether in the uncertificated line."
"Meklis," said Mrs. Petulengro; "I use your own word, madam, which
is Romany: for my own part, I am not fond of using Romany words,
unless I can hope to pass them off for French, which I cannot in
the present company. I heartily wish that there was no such
language, and do my best to keep it away from my children, lest the
frequent use of it should altogether confirm them in low and vulgar
habits. I have four children, madam, but--"
"I suppose by talking of your four children you wish to check me
for having none," said Mrs. Chikno, bursting into tears; "if I have
no children, sister, it is no fault of mine, it is--but why do I
call you sister?" said she, angrily; "you are no sister of mine,
you are a grasni, a regular mare--a pretty sister, indeed, ashamed
of your own language. I remember well that by your high-flying
notions you drove your own mother--"
"We will drop it," said Mrs. Petulengro; "I do not wish to raise my
voice, and to make myself ridiculous. Young gentleman," said she,
"pray present my compliments to Miss Isopel Berners, and inform her
that I am very sorry that I cannot accept her polite invitation. I
am just arrived, and have some slight domestic matters to see to--
amongst others, to wash my children's faces; but that in the course
of the forenoon, when I have attended to what I have to do, and
have dressed myself, I hope to do myself the honour of paying her a
regular visit; you will tell her that, with my compliments. With
respect to my husband he can answer for himself, as I, not being of
a jealous disposition, never interferes with his matters."
"And tell Miss Berners," said Mr. Petulengro, "that I shall be
happy to wait upon her in company with my wife as soon as we are
regularly settled: at present I have much on my hands, having not
only to pitch my own tent, but this here jealous woman's, whose
husband is absent on my business."
Thereupon I returned to the dingle, and, without saying anything
about Mrs. Chikno's observations, communicated to Isopel the
messages of Mr. and Mrs. Petulengro; Isopel made no other reply
than by replacing in her coffer two additional cups and saucers,
which, in expectation of company, she had placed upon the board.
The kettle was by this time boiling. We sat down, and, as we
breakfasted, I gave Isopel Berners another lesson in the Armenian
The Promised Visit--Roman Fashion--Wizard and Witch--Catching at
Words--The Two Females--Dressing of Hair--The New Roads--Belle's
Altered Appearance--Herself Again.
About mid-day Mr. and Mrs. Petulengro came to the dingle to pay the
promised visit. Belle, at the time of their arrival, was in her
tent, but I was at the fire-place, engaged in hammering part of the
outer-tire, or defence, which had come off from one of the wheels
of my vehicle. On perceiving them I forthwith went to receive
them. Mr. Petulengro was dressed in Roman fashion, with a somewhat
smartly-cut sporting-coat, the buttons of which were half-crowns--
and a waistcoat, scarlet and black, the buttons of which were
spaded half-guineas; his breeches were of a stuff half velveteen,
half corduroy, the cords exceedingly broad. He had leggings of
buff cloth, furred at the bottom; and upon his feet were highlows.
Under his left arm was a long black whalebone riding-whip, with a
red lash, and an immense silver knob. Upon his head was a hat with
a high peak, somewhat of the kind which the Spaniards call calane,
so much in favour with the bravos of Seville and Madrid. Now, when
I have added that Mr. Petulengro had on a very fine white holland
shirt, I think I have described his array. Mrs. Petulengro--I beg
pardon for not having spoken of her first--was also arrayed very
much in the Roman fashion. Her hair, which was exceedingly black
and lustrous, fell in braids on either side of her head. In her
ears were rings, with long drops of gold. Round her neck was a
string of what seemed very much like very large pearls, somewhat
tarnished, however, and apparently of considerable antiquity.
"Here we are, brother," said Mr. Petulengro; "here we are, come to
see you--wizard and witch, witch and wizard:-
"'There's a chovahanee, and a chovahano,
The nav se len is Petulengro.'"
"Hold your tongue, sir," said Mrs. Petulengro; "you make me ashamed
of you with your vulgar ditties. We are come a visiting now, and
everything low should be left behind."
"True," said Mr. Petulengro; "why bring what's low to the dingle,
which is low enough already?"
"What, are you a catcher at words?" said I. "I thought that
catching at words had been confined to the pothouse farmers and
village witty bodies."
"All fools," said Mrs. Petulengro, "catch at words, and very
naturally, as by so doing they hope to prevent the possibility of
rational conversation. Catching at words confined to pothouse
farmers, and village witty bodies! No, not to Jasper Petulengro.
Listen for an hour or two to the discourse of a set they call
newspaper editors, and if you don't go out and eat grass, as a dog
does when he is sick, I am no female woman. The young lord whose
hand I refused when I took up with wise Jasper, once brought two of
them to my mother's tan, when hankering after my company; they did
nothing but carp at each other's words, and a pretty hand they made
of it. Ill-favoured dogs they were; and their attempts at what
they called wit almost as unfortunate as their countenances."
"Well," said I, "madam, we will drop all catchings and carpings for
the present. Pray take your seat on this stool, whilst I go and
announce to Miss Isopel Berners your arrival."
Thereupon I went to Belle's habitation, and informed her that Mr.
and Mrs. Petulengro had paid us a visit of ceremony, and were
awaiting her at the fire-place. "Pray go and tell them that I am
busy," said Belle, who was engaged with her needle. "I do not feel
disposed to take part in any such nonsense." "I shall do no such
thing," said I; "and I insist upon your coming forthwith, and
showing proper courtesy to your visitors. If you do not, their
feelings will be hurt, and you are aware that I cannot bear that
people's feelings should be outraged. Come this moment, or--" "Or
what?" said Belle, half smiling. "I was about to say something in
Armenian," said I. "Well," said Belle, laying down her work, "I
will come." "Stay," said I; "your hair is hanging about your ears,
and your dress is in disorder; you had better stay a minute or two
to prepare yourself to appear before your visitors, who have come
in their very best attire." "No," said Belle, "I will make no
alteration in my appearance; you told me to come this moment, and
you shall be obeyed." So Belle and I advanced towards our guests.
As we drew nigh Mr. Petulengro took off his hat, and made a
profound obeisance to Belle, whilst Mrs. Petulengro rose from the
stool, and made a profound curtsey. Belle, who had flung her hair
back over her shoulders, returned their salutations by bending her
head, and after slightly glancing at Mr. Petulengro, fixed her
large blue eyes full upon his wife. Both these females were very
handsome--but how unlike! Belle fair, with blue eyes and flaxen
hair; Mrs. Petulengro with olive complexion, eyes black, and hair
dark--as dark as could be. Belle, in demeanour calm and proud; the
gypsy graceful, but full of movement and agitation. And then how
different were those two in stature! The head of the Romany rawnie
scarcely ascended to the breast of Isopel Berners. I could see
that Mrs. Petulengro gazed on Belle with unmixed admiration; so did
her husband. "Well," said the latter, "one thing I will say, which
is, that there is only one on earth worthy to stand up in front of
this she, and that is the beauty of the world, as far as man flesh
is concerned, Tawno Chikno; what a pity he did not come down!"
"Tawno Chikno," said Mrs. Petulengro, flaring up; "a pretty fellow
he to stand up in front of this gentlewoman, a pity he didn't come,
quotha? not at all, the fellow is a sneak, afraid of his wife. He
stand up against this rawnie! why, the look she has given me would
knock the fellow down."
"It is easier to knock him down with a look than with a fist," said
Mr. Petulengro; "that is, if the look comes from a woman: not that
I am disposed to doubt that this female gentlewoman is able to
knock him down either one way or the other. I have heard of her
often enough, and have seen her once or twice, though not so near
as now. Well, ma'am, my wife and I are come to pay our respects to
you; we are both glad to find that you have left off keeping
company with Flaming Bosville, and have taken up with my pal; he is
not very handsome, but a better--"
"I take up with your pal, as you call him! you had better mind what
you say," said Isopel Berners, "I take up with nobody."
"I merely mean taking up your quarters with him," said Mr.
Petulengro; "and I was only about to say a better fellow-lodger you
cannot have, or a more instructive, especially if you have a desire
to be inoculated with tongues, as he calls them. I wonder whether
you and he have had any tongue-work already."
"Have you and your wife anything particular to say? if you have
nothing but this kind of conversation I must leave you, as I am
going to make a journey this afternoon, and should be getting
"You must excuse my husband, madam," said Mrs. Petulengro, "he is
not overburdened with understanding, and has said but one word of
sense since he has been here, which was that we came to pay our
respects to you. We have dressed ourselves in our best Roman way,
in order to do honour to you; perhaps you do not like it; if so, I
am sorry. I have no French clothes, madam; if I had any, madam, I
would have come in them, in order to do you more honour."
"I like to see you much better as you are," said Belle; "people
should keep to their own fashions, and yours is very pretty."
"I am glad you are pleased to think it so, madam; it has been
admired in the great city; it created what they call a sensation;
and some of the great ladies, the court ladies, imitated it, else I
should not appear in it so often as I am accustomed; for I am not
very fond of what is Roman, having an imagination that what is
Roman is ungenteel; in fact, I once heard the wife of a rich
citizen say that gypsies were vulgar creatures. I should have
taken her saying very much to heart, but for her improper
pronunciation; she could not pronounce her words, madam, which we
gypsies, as they call us, usually can, so I thought she was no very
high purchase. You are very beautiful, madam, though you are not
dressed as I could wish to see you, and your hair is hanging down
in sad confusion; allow me to assist you in arranging your hair,
madam; I will dress it for you in our fashion; I would fain see how
your hair would look in our poor gypsy fashion; pray allow me,
madam?" and she took Belle by the hand.
"I really can do no such thing," said Belle, withdrawing her hand;
"I thank you for coming to see me, but--"
"Do allow me to officiate upon your hair, madam," said Mrs.
Petulengro. "I should esteem your allowing me a great mark of
condescension. You are very beautiful, madam, and I think you
doubly so, because you are so fair; I have a great esteem for
persons with fair complexions and hair; I have a less regard for
people with dark hair and complexions, madam."
"Then why did you turn off the lord, and take up with me?" said Mr.
Petulengro; "that same lord was fair enough all about him."
"People do when they are young and silly what they sometimes repent
of when they are of riper years and understandings. I sometimes
think that had I not been something of a simpleton, I might at this
time be a great court lady. Now, madam," said she, again taking
Belle by the hand, "do oblige me by allowing me to plait your hair
"I have really a good mind to be angry with you," said Belle,
giving Mrs. Petulengro a peculiar glance.
"Do allow her to arrange your hair," said I; "she means no harm,
and wishes to do you honour; do oblige her and me too, for I should
like to see how your hair would look dressed in her fashion."
"You hear what the young rye says?" said Mrs. Petulengro. "I am
sure you will oblige the young rye, if not myself. Many people
would be willing to oblige the young rye, if he would but ask them;
but he is not in the habit of asking favours. He has a nose of his
own, which he keeps tolerably exalted; he does not think small-beer
of himself, madam; and all the time I have been with him, I never
heard him ask a favour before; therefore, madam, I am sure you will
oblige him. My sister Ursula would be very willing to oblige him
in many things, but he will not ask for anything, except for such a
favour as a word, which is a poor favour after all. I don't mean
for her word; perhaps he will some day ask you for your word. If
"Why, here you are, after railing at me for catching at words,
catching at a word yourself," said Mr. Petulengro.
"Hold your tongue, sir," said Mrs. Petulengro. "Don't interrupt me
in my discourse; if I caught at a word now, I am not in the habit
of doing so. I am no conceited body; no newspaper Neddy; no
pothouse witty person. I was about to say, madam, that if the
young rye asks you at any time for your word, you will do as you
deem convenient; but I am sure you will oblige him by allowing me
to braid your hair."
"I shall not do it to oblige him," said Belle; "the young rye, as
you call him, is nothing to me."
"Well, then, to oblige me," said Mrs. Petulengro; "do allow me to
become your poor tire-woman."
"It is great nonsense," said Belle, reddening; "however, as you
came to see me, and ask the matter as a particular favour to
"Thank you, madam," said Mrs. Petulengro, leading Belle to the
stool; "please to sit down here. Thank you; your hair is very
beautiful, madam," she continued, as she proceeded to braid Belle's
hair; "so is your countenance. Should you ever go to the great
city, among the grand folks, you would make a sensation, madam. I
have made one myself, who am dark; the chi she is kauley, which
last word signifies black, which I am not, though rather dark.
There is no colour like white, madam; it's so lasting, so genteel.
Gentility will carry the day, madam, even with the young rye. He
will ask words of the black lass, but beg the word of the fair."
In the meantime Mr. Petulengro and myself entered into
conversation. "Any news stirring, Mr. Petulengro?" said I. "Have
you heard anything of the great religious movements?"
"Plenty," said Mr. Petulengro; "all the religious people, more
especially the Evangelicals--those that go about distributing
tracts--are very angry about the fight between Gentleman Cooper and
White-headed Bob, which they say ought not to have been permitted
to take place; and then they are trying all they can to prevent the
fight between the lion and the dogs, which they say is a disgrace
to a Christian country. Now I can't say that I have any quarrel
with the religious party and the Evangelicals; they are always
civil to me and mine, and frequently give us tracts, as they call
them, which neither I nor mine can read; but I cannot say that I
approve of any movements, religious or not, which have in aim to
put down all life and manly sport in this here country."
"Anything else?" said I.
"People are becoming vastly sharp," said Mr. Petulengro; "and I am
told that all the old-fashioned good-tempered constables are going
to be set aside, and a paid body of men to be established, who are
not to permit a tramper or vagabond on the roads of England;--and
talking of roads, puts me in mind of a strange story I heard two
nights ago, whilst drinking some beer at a public-house in company
with my cousin Sylvester. I had asked Tawno to go, but his wife
would not let him. Just opposite me, smoking their pipes, were a
couple of men, something like engineers, and they were talking of a
wonderful invention which was to make a wonderful alteration in
England; inasmuch as it would set aside all the old roads, which in
a little time would be ploughed up, and sowed with corn, and cause
all England to be laid down with iron roads, on which people would
go thundering along in vehicles, pushed forward by fire and smoke.
Now, brother, when I heard this, I did not feel very comfortable;
for I thought to myself, what a queer place such a road would be to
pitch one's tent upon, and how impossible it would be for one's
cattle to find a bite of grass upon it; and I thought likewise of
the danger to which one's family would be exposed in being run over
and severely scorched by these same flying fiery vehicles; so I
made bold to say, that I hoped such an invention would never be
countenanced, because it was likely to do a great deal of harm.
Whereupon, one of the men, giving me a glance, said, without taking
the pipe out of his mouth, that for his part, he sincerely hoped
that it would take effect; and if it did no other good than
stopping the rambles of gypsies, and other like scamps, it ought to
be encouraged. Well, brother, feeling myself insulted, I put my
hand into my pocket, in order to pull out money, intending to
challenge him to fight for a five-shilling stake, but merely found
sixpence, having left all my other money at the tent; which
sixpence was just sufficient to pay for the beer which Sylvester
and myself were drinking, of whom I couldn't hope to borrow
anything--'poor as Sylvester' being a by-word amongst us. So, not
being able to back myself, I held my peace, and let the Gorgio have
it all his own way, who, after turning up his nose at me, went on
discoursing about the said invention, saying what a fund of profit
it would be to those who knew how to make use of it, and should
have the laying down of the new roads, and the shoeing of England
with iron. And after he had said this, and much more of the same
kind, which I cannot remember, he and his companion got up and
walked away; and presently I and Sylvester got up and walked to our
camp; and there I lay down in my tent by the side of my wife, where
I had an ugly dream of having camped upon an iron road; my tent
being overturned by a flying vehicle; my wife's leg injured; and
all my affairs put into great confusion."
"Now, madam," said Mrs. Petulengro, "I have braided your hair in
our fashion: you look very beautiful, madam; more beautiful, if
possible, than before." Belle now rose, and came forward with her
tire-woman. Mr. Petulengro was loud in his applause, but I said
nothing, for I did not think Belle was improved in appearance by
having submitted to the ministry of Mrs. Petulengro's hand. Nature
never intended Belle to appear as a gypsy; she had made her too
proud and serious. A more proper part for her was that of a
heroine, a queenly heroine,--that of Theresa of Hungary, for
example; or, better still, that of Brynhilda the Valkyrie, the
beloved of Sigurd, the serpent-killer, who incurred the curse of
Odin, because, in the tumult of spears, she sided with the young
king, and doomed the old warrior to die, to whom Odin had promised
Belle looked at me for a moment in silence; then turning to Mrs.
Petulengro, she said, "You have had your will with me; are you
satisfied?" "Quite so, madam," said Mrs. Petulengro, "and I hope
you will be so too, as soon as you have looked in the glass." "I
have looked in one already," said Belle; "and the glass does not
flatter." "You mean the face of the young rye," said Mrs.
Petulengro; "never mind him, madam; the young rye, though he knows
a thing or two, is not a university, nor a person of universal
wisdom. I assure you, that you never looked so well before; and I
hope that, from this moment, you will wear your hair in this way."
"And who is to braid it in this way?" said Belle, smiling. "I,
madam," said Mrs. Petulengro; "I will braid it for you every
morning, if you will but be persuaded to join us. Do so, madam,
and I think, if you did, the young rye would do so too." "The
young rye is nothing to me, nor I to him," said Belle; "we have
stayed some time together; but our paths will soon be apart. Now,
farewell, for I am about to take a journey." "And you will go out
with your hair as I have braided it," said Mrs. Petulengro; "if you
do, everybody will be in love with you." "No," said Belle;
"hitherto I have allowed you to do what you please, but henceforth
I shall have my own way. Come, come," said she, observing that the
gypsy was about to speak, "we have had enough of nonsense; whenever
I leave this hollow, it will be wearing my hair in my own fashion."
"Come, wife," said Mr. Petulengro; "we will no longer intrude upon
the rye and rawnie; there is such a thing as being troublesome."
Thereupon Mr. Petulengro and his wife took their leave, with many
salutations. "Then you are going?" said I, when Belle and I were
left alone. "Yes," said Belle; "I am going on a journey; my
affairs compel me." "But you will return again?" said I. "Yes,"
said Belle, "I shall return once more." "Once more," said I; "what
do you mean by once more? The Petulengros will soon be gone, and
will you abandon me in this place?" "You were alone here," said
Belle, "before I came, and I suppose, found it agreeable, or you
would not have stayed in it." "Yes," said I, "that was before I
knew you; but having lived with you here, I should be very loth to
live here without you." "Indeed," said Belle; "I did not know that
I was of so much consequence to you. Well, the day is wearing
away--I must go and harness Traveller to the cart." "I will do
that," said I, "or anything else you may wish me. Go and prepare
yourself; I will see after Traveller and the cart." Belle departed
to her tent, and I set about performing the task I had undertaken.
In about half-an-hour Belle again made her appearance--she was
dressed neatly and plainly. Her hair was no longer in the Roman
fashion, in which Pakomovna had plaited it, but was secured by a
comb; she held a bonnet in her hand. "Is there anything else I can
do for you?" I demanded. "There are two or three bundles by my
tent, which you can put into the cart," said Belle. I put the
bundles into the cart, and then led Traveller and the cart up the
winding path to the mouth of the dingle, near which was Mr.
Petulengro's encampment. Belle followed. At the top, I delivered
the reins into her hands; we looked at each other stedfastly for
some time. Belle then departed, and I returned to the dingle,
where, seating myself on my stone, I remained for upwards of an
hour in thought.
The Festival--The Gypsy Song--Piramus of Rome--The Scotchman--Gypsy
On the following day there was much feasting amongst the Romany
chals of Mr. Petulengro's party. Throughout the forenoon the
Romany chies did scarcely anything but cook flesh, and the flesh
which they cooked was swine's flesh. About two o'clock, the chals
dividing themselves into various parties, sat down and partook of
the fare, which was partly roasted, partly sodden. I dined that
day with Mr. Petulengro and his wife and family, Ursula, Mr. and
Mrs. Chikno, and Sylvester and his two children. Sylvester, it
will be as well to say, was a widower, and had consequently no one
to cook his victuals for him, supposing he had any, which was not
always the case, Sylvester's affairs being seldom in a prosperous
state. He was noted for his bad success in trafficking,
notwithstanding the many hints which he received from Jasper, under
whose protection he had placed himself, even as Tawno Chikno had
done, who himself, as the reader has heard on a former occasion,
was anything but a wealthy subject, though he was at all times
better off than Sylvester, the Lazarus of the Romany tribe.
All our party ate with a good appetite, except myself, who, feeling
rather melancholy that day, had little desire to eat. I did not,
like the others, partake of the pork, but got my dinner entirely
off the body of a squirrel which had been shot the day before by a
chal of the name of Piramus, who, besides being a good shot, was
celebrated for his skill in playing on the fiddle. During the
dinner a horn filled with ale passed frequently around; I drank of
it more than once, and felt inspirited by the draughts. The repast
concluded, Sylvester and his children departed to their tent, and
Mr. Petulengro, Tawno, and myself, getting up, went and lay down
under a shady hedge, where Mr. Petulengro, lighting his pipe, began
to smoke, and where Tawno presently fell asleep. I was about to
fall asleep also, when I heard the sound of music and song.
Piramus was playing on the fiddle, whilst Mrs. Chikno, who had a
voice of her own, was singing in tones sharp enough, but of great
power, a gypsy song:-
POISONING THE PORKER
BY MRS. CHIKNO
To mande shoon ye Romany chals
Who besh in the pus about the yag,
I'll pen how we drab the baulo,
I'll pen how we drab the baulo.
We jaws to the drab-engro ker,
Trin horsworth there of drab we lels,
And when to the swety back we wels
We pens we'll drab the baulo,
We'll have a drab at a baulo.
And then we kairs the drab opre,
And then we jaws to the farming ker,
To mang a beti habben,
A beti poggado habben.
A rinkeno baulo there we dick,
And then we pens in Romano jib;
Wust lis odoi opre ye chick,
And the baulo he will lel lis,
The baulo he will lel lis.
Coliko, coliko saulo we
Apopli to the farming ker
Will wel and mang him mullo,
Will wel and mang his truppo.
And so we kairs, and so we kairs;
The baulo in the rarde mers;
We mang him on the saulo,
And rig to the tan the baulo.
And then we toves the wendror well
Till sore the wendror iuziou se,
Till kekkeno drab's adrey lis,
Till drab there's kek adrey lis.
And then his truppo well we hatch,
Kin levinor at the kitchema,
And have a kosko habben,
A kosko Romano habben.
The boshom engro kils, he kils,
The tawnie juva gils, she gils
A puro Romano gillie,
Now shoon the Romano gillie.
Which song I had translated in the following manner, in my younger
days, for a lady's album:
Listen to me ye Romanlads, who are seated in the straw about the
fire, and I will tell how we poison the porker, I will tell how we
poison the porker.
We go to the house of the poison-monger, where we buy three
pennies' worth of bane, and when we return to our people we say, we
will poison the porker; we will try and poison the porker.
We then make up the poison, and then we take our way to the house
of the farmer, as if to beg a bit of victuals, a little broken
We see a jolly porker, and then we say in Roman language, "Fling
the bane yonder amongst the dirt, and the porker soon will find it,
the porker soon will find it."
Early on the morrow, we will return to the farm-house, and beg the
dead porker, the body of the dead porker.
And so we do, even so we do; the porker dieth during the night; on
the morrow we beg the porker, and carry to the tent the porker.
And then we wash the inside well, till all the inside is perfectly
clean, till there's no bane within it, not a poison grain within
And then we roast the body well, send for ale to the alehouse, and
have a merry banquet, a merry Roman banquet.
The fellow with the fiddle plays, he plays; the little lassie
sings, she sings an ancient Roman ditty; now hear the Roman ditty.
SONG OF THE BROKEN CHASTITY
Penn'd the Romany chi ke laki dye
"Miry dearie dye mi shom cambri!"
"And coin kerdo tute cambri,
Miry dearie chi, miry Romany chi?"
"O miry dye a boro rye,
A bovalo rye, a gorgiko rye,
Sos kistur pre a pellengo grye,
'Twas yov sos kerdo man cambri."
"Tu tawnie vassavie lubbeny,
Tu chal from miry tan abri;
Had a Romany cwal kair'd tute cambri,
Then I had penn'd ke tute chie,
But tu shan a vassavie lubbeny
With gorgikie rat to be cambri."
"There's some kernel in those songs, brother," said Mr. Petulengro,
when the songs and music were over.
"Yes," said I; "they are certainly very remarkable songs. I say,
Jasper, I hope you have not been drabbing baulor lately."
"And suppose we have, brother, what then?"
"Why, it is a very dangerous practice, to say nothing of the
wickedness of it."
"Necessity has no law, brother."
"That is true," said I; "I have always said so, but you are not
necessitous, and should not drab baulor."
"And who told you we had been drabbing baulor?"
"Why, you have had a banquet of pork, and after the banquet, Mrs.
Chikno sang a song about drabbing baulor, so I naturally thought
you might have lately been engaged in such a thing."
"Brother, you occasionally utter a word or two of common sense. It
was natural for you to suppose, after seeing that dinner of pork,
and hearing that song, that we had been drabbing baulor; I will now
tell you that we have not been doing so. What have you to say to
"That I am very glad of it."
"Had you tasted that pork, brother, you would have found that it
was sweet and tasty, which balluva that is drabbed can hardly be
expected to be. We have no reason to drab baulor at present, we
have money and credit; but necessity has no law. Our forefathers
occasionally drabbed baulor; some of our people may still do such a
thing, but only from compulsion."
"I see," said I; "and at your merry meetings you sing songs upon
the compulsatory deeds of your people, alias, their villainous
actions; and, after all, what would the stirring poetry of any
nation be, but for its compulsatory deeds? Look at the poetry of
Scotland, the heroic part, founded almost entirely on the
villainous deeds of the Scotch nation; cow-stealing, for example,
which is very little better than drabbing baulor; whilst the softer
part is mostly about the slips of its females among the broom, so
that no upholder of Scotch poetry could censure Ursula's song as
indelicate, even if he understood it. What do you think, Jasper?"
"I think, brother, as I before said, that occasionally you utter a
word of common sense; you were talking of the Scotch, brother; what
do you think of a Scotchman finding fault with Romany!"
"A Scotchman finding fault with Romany, Jasper! Oh dear, but you
joke, the thing could never be."
"Yes, and at Piramus's fiddle; what do you think of a Scotchman
turning up his nose at Piramus's fiddle?"
"A Scotchman turning up his nose at Piramus's fiddle! nonsense,
"Do you know what I most dislike, brother?"
"I do not, unless it be the constable, Jasper."
"It is not the constable; it's a beggar on horseback, brother."
"What do you mean by a beggar on horseback?"
"Why, a scamp, brother, raised above his proper place, who takes
every opportunity of giving himself fine airs. About a week ago,
my people and myself camped on a green by a plantation in the
neighbourhood of a great house. In the evening we were making
merry, the girls were dancing, while Piramus was playing on the
fiddle a tune of his own composing, to which he has given his own
name, Piramus of Rome, and which is much celebrated amongst our
people, and from which I have been told that one of the grand
gorgio composers, who once heard it, has taken several hints. So,
as we were making merry, a great many grand people, lords and
ladies, I believe, came from the great house, and looked on, as the
girls danced to the tune of Piramus of Rome, and seemed much
pleased; and when the girls had left off dancing, and Piramus
playing, the ladies wanted to have their fortunes told; so I bade
Mikailia Chikno, who can tell a fortune when she pleases better
than any one else, tell them a fortune, and she, being in a good
mind, told them a fortune which pleased them very much. So, after
they had heard their fortunes, one of them asked if any of our
women could sing; and I told them several could, more particularly
Leviathan--you know Leviathan, she is not here now, but some miles
distant, she is our best singer, Ursula coming next. So the lady
said she should like to hear Leviathan sing, whereupon Leviathan
sang the Gudlo pesham, and Piramus played the tune of the same
name, which as you know, means the honeycomb, the song and the tune
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