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Iv'e suppose that most of our readers have frequently seen some of the extraordinary race of people who are called Gypsies. They wander about in almost every part of England, and usually sleep in the open air, or in tilted carts, or little tents, which they set up in some lane, or upon some common. Many of the men are itinerant tinkers, or scissor grinders, and many of the women are professed fortunetellers, and obtain money from silly persons, under the pretence of being able to tell them what events will happen to them—such as whether they will get married, and whether they will be rich or poor, and other things about which they really know nothing.
Gypsies are found in a great many other countries; in Spain, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Kussia, and other parts of the world. In Great Britain they are called Gypsies, because it is supposed that the tribe originally came from Egypt; but in other countries they arc called by other names. Some historians are of opinion that the Gypsies originally came from Hindoostan, and it has been found that there is a similarity between the language spoken by them and the Hindoos. It is supposed, that when the Mahomedans ravaged India, that the Gypsies were driven out of their native land and travelled through Persia into Europe, and thus became scattered among the nations in which they have subsequently appeared. Perhaps some of them wandered into Egypt, and were expelled from that land. It is reported by some writers of authority that Sultan Selim, who conquered Egypt, expelled the Gypsies from that land.
Like the Jews, the Gypsies have oftentimes been subjected to very harsh treatment by many of the European nations. In an act passed by the parliament of England, in the year 1530, the Gypsies are described, as "an outlandish people, calling themselves Egyptians, using no craft nor feat of merchandise, who have come into this realm, and gone from shire to shire, and place to place, in great companies, and used great, subtle, and crafty means to deceive the people; bearing them in hand that they by palmistry (that is, by looking at the palms of their hands,) could tell men's and women's fortunes, and so many times by craft and subtilty have deceived people of their money, and also have committed many heinous felonies and robberies." The act then directs that the Gypsies should quit the kingdom, and not return, under pain of the forfeiture of their goods and chattels.
Formerly, many persons were so superstitious as to suppose that the Gypsies possessed such supernatural, diabolical power, that they were capable of practising arts of sorcery or witcheraft, so as to injure the persons or property of those who offended them. These foolish notions are now generally exploded. The inhabitants of this highly privileged land arc now much better instructed than they formerly were, and the foolish notions which troubled weak-minded persons about ghosts and witches are now generally put away, as ridiculous absurdities.
Gypsies aro generally suspected of being greatly addicted to pilfering; and it is supposed that many of them obtain a large portion of the means of their subsistence by dishonest means. Formerly, they were charged with being addicted to the cruel practice of stealing children. We do not think it likely that thej' were often guilty of this crime. Some instances of its commission by them are well attested. We have met with the following account of a child who had been stolcu, and was afterwards, in a remarkable maanor, restored to his father. This occurred more than a hundred vears since, and the account is as follows—
"As the boat, which carried passengers from Lcyden to Amsterdam, in Holland, was putting off, a boy running along-side of the canal, desired to be taken on board, but the master of the boat refused, because the lad had not quite money enough to pay the fare. An eminent merchant being pleased with the looks of the boy, and feeling compassion for him, paid the fare, and ordered the boy to be taken on board. Upon talking with him, the merchant found that the boy could converse in several languages, and also learned from him that he had been stolen, when a child, from his parents, by a Gypsy, and had ever since rambled, with a gang of these strollers, up aed down several parts of Europe. The merchant had himself lost a child some years before; and, after a long search for him, had given him up, supposing that he had been drowned ia one of the canals, there being many canals, there. The merchant's wife was so distressed at the loss of her boy—-who was her eldest son—that she died of giief on his account. The merchant thought that perhaps the boy, whose fare by the boat he had in compassion paid, might be his own son. Upon examining his person, there were found upon him the moles and marks by which the merchant's wife used to describe her son when he was sought for. Upon laying all the circumstances together, the merchant became satisfied that he had found his long-lost child. The lad was very well pleased to find his father, and to find that he was rich, and likely to leave him a good estate. The merchant was not a little delighted to sec his Sod, whom he had given up for lost, and to find that he possessed such quickness of understanding and skill in languages. The boy was then educated and brought up as a gentleman; and it is said that he was afterwards sent as a public minister to foreign courts, in countries in which, when he was voung, ho wandered as a Gypsy child."
It is supposed that there arc in Europe about eight hundred thousand Gypsies. They arc an illitemtc race, and have not any settled religious opinions; nor do they celebrate any religious rites: they are peculiar in their dress, and are not cleanly in their habits: they are fond of fine colours in ribbons and other articles of dress. Some years smce, some benevolent persons endeavoured to impart religious instruction to a number of Gypsies in the neighbourhood of Southampton, and several of them became reformed, and learned trades; and two of them became teachers in a Sunday-school.
THE CAVE OF ENGEDI. ,
The lovers of romantic history have much admired the life of Robin Hood, and his merry men of Sherwood forest. The particulars of the story may be given in the words of Stow. "In this time (about the year 1190, in the reign of Richard I.) were many robbers and outlaws, among which, Robin Hood and Little John, renowned thecves, continued in the woods, dispoyling and robbing the goodes of the rich. They killed none^but as such as would invade them, or by resistance for their own defence. The saide Robert entertained one hundred men and good archers, with suche spoilcs and thefts as he got, upon whom four hundred (were they ever so strong) durst not give the onset. He suffered no woman to be oppressed or molested; poore men's goodes he spared, abundantlie relieving them with that which by theft he got from abbeys and the houses of rich old earles, whom Maior (the historian) blameth for his rapine and theft; but of all the theeves he affirmeth him to be the prince, and the most gentle theefe." His tombstone is shown near the nunnery of Kirklees in Yorkshire, where, as the story goes, he was bled to death by a treacherous nun, to whom he applied for phlebotomy. The epitaph gives the year 1247 as the time of his death. But what impression is the embellishment of such a story likely to produce on the mind of ardent youth? In many instances, we fear, the impression would be, that a lawless life of pleasure is
better than honest plodding industry. This, however, is a life, which though romantically embellished, is contrary to the will of God, and must end in shame and misery.
We wish to present to our readers a far better illustration of heroism and magnanimity, drawn from the Word of God, where the best examples of right moral conduct arc certainly to be found. Now, if our young friends have become enchanted with romantic story, what can better suit them than the history of David, the shepherd boy of Bethlehem, who passed through many strange vicissitudes until he became a great and powerful king.
Let the reader employ his imagination, and picture this youth of ruddy countenance, watching his flocks by night, gazing with silent rapture on the starry firmament above him; or anon, aroused by the cry of distress and howling rage, pursuing the bear and the lion, plucking the bleedmg lamb from the jaws of destruction, and laying the monsters of the forest lifeless at his feet. Then let him listen to the beautiful music of his harp as he celebrates his deliverance, and sings of the goodness and mercy of God. But this happy youth is not destined to spend hisdays in seclusion, nor to waste them in tending harmless flocks. His country is in trouble, fighting against her enemies, and many a noble youth has gone to the wars.. The brothers of David are there. At his father's bidding, he hastens to their relief, when he beholds a giant foe stalk forth to defy the hosts of the living God. His bosom is fired with indignation—the true spirit of valour springs up within him—and his soul places its reliance for success upon God. What story of giants and giant-killers can be more entertaining than this! See the stripling youth goes forth to meet the armed man; not with weapons of steel find greaves of brass; but with his shepherd's scrip, and his sling and a stone; with his arm nerved with zeal for God, and an unerring aim, directed by an invisible hand, the stone smites the giant, and he falls thundering to the earth.
So great was this deliverance that the virgins of Israel, m their simplicity, extolled his praise. "Saul hath slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands." This