Hubert Smith.

Tent life with English Gipsies in Norway online

. (page 3 of 37)
Online LibraryHubert SmithTent life with English Gipsies in Norway → online text (page 3 of 37)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

our friend, of whose regretted absence, we have already
spoken. He had taken it from an air, which he once
heard played, by an Italian boy, in the streets of London.
It had since dwelt on his memory. The following is
the music of the air, and the song follows, with a Nor-
wegian translation, which is said, to be exceedingly




At I?.


s^^^E ^^JE^^ ^— ^-T^-Tj^




r '

r '



: fj.^.^ ^ g^^^ ^^^^

|-n_i-n i-T^rX3.


-^H^ - ^:

^ I 0—0^

5= ^^SE3E2=t=»=


jij~tj~i l^^3^^3a^

^^= !^^







pp ^^f ii^^^i





fes ^^^fe;^^ ^^ ^^




4_!L_S-i_J~~j g # ZZj j


';'. '-' "-'',■?'■■'■'' '\






Hil dig du kjcere gamle Land !
Hvor Frilled og Munterlied Ijoe,
Vi Zigeunere komme til din Strand
Forat vandre med dig i Ro.

Vi vandre paa Mark, vi vandre i Fjord
I det stolte gamle Norge.
Der leve gjocve Folk i Nord,
Thi her ere Frihedens Borge.

I mit Telt ved din 1 ilanke Soe
Belyst af Maanen sodt jeg drommer.
Din Erindring lios mig AnI aldrig doe
Dine lioie Granskove jeg ikke glemmer.

Giv OS Eders Yelkomst til Norgesland,

Ha- or Alter saa yndigt at skue.

I Eders Fsedres Bryst for den fremmede Man J ' ^

Opflammede Venskabets Lue.

Den liellige Olaf velsigned dig.
De djserve Haralders Jord,
Om dig stedse siges sandelig :
Soni Guld kan man tage dit Ord.

Farvel ! vi Afsked maa tage,
Og besoge liver Skov og livert Fjeld
Yor Yelsignelse Eder altid ledsage
Og gjentone A'ort sidste Farvel.





Welcome, you dear old land,
Land of the gay and free ;
"We are a gipsy band,
And Avander awhile ■with thee.

In fiord and fell we wander,

Nor tire, old Norge, of thee,

A people so brave, and no wonder —

For they live in the land of the free.

I dream in my tent by your Indsoe,
"When the moonlight hour is mine.
And my heart can never forget you,
And yom- beautiful forests of pine.

Give us your welcome to Norway,
"Where all is lovely and fail- ;
Yom- fathers of old never tardy
Their friendship with strangers to share.

Blessed by St. Olaf the holy.
Land of Harold the bold.
Of you it is ever said truly
Your word is as good as your gold.

And now adieu ; we must leave you,
To wander each forest and fell ;
Our blessing for ever attend you,
And echo our parting farewell.


" The woods are gi-een, the hedges white
With leaves, and blossoms fair ;
There's music in the forest now,
And I too must be there."



We liad nearly completed our preparations, and were
leaving town, wlien we dined one evening witli a friend
wdiom we had not seen for some time. He seemed
interested in our approacliing excursion, but liis astonisli-
ment was great, wlien our plan was divulged.

"What! going to Norway with gipsies?" said he in
amazement, as he poised in his hand, a glass of champagne.
" Why I don't believe my friend Tom Taylor, who has
taken a great interest in the gipsy language, ever went so
far as to camp with them. You'll be robbed, and
murdered — not the slightest doubt. Travel with gipsies ! "
■exclaimed our friend, and he seemed to shudder at the

We were quite unable to say how much self-sacrifice
Mr. Tom Taylor may have made. We had read his
interesting collection of Breton Ballads. He writes well
on a great variety of subjects, and is an excellent art

c 2


critic ; but we could not give any opinion upon liis camp
experience. My friend shook his liead, " Write to mo
when you get there, — promise to write me a letter," said
he earnestly. " Yes, you will be certainly robbed, and
murdered," and he silently emptied his glass.

There was something touching in his manner, as he
gulped down the effervescent draught, with a look which
showed plainly that he had no hope for our safe return.

In the drawing-room the subject seemed one of interest..
We gave our friend a promise to write. As Ave left the
house, his adieux were those of separation, for the last

It had been a wild rainy night. What with packing,,
and wiiting letters, we never went to bed. 3Ies gens de
la maison remained up also. After a very earl}" breakfast
we were en route. As we drove up to the railway
station of a large populous town, we caught sight of our
gipsies. They were waiting for us with the three
donkeys in the shelter of some open building of the
station. The gipsies looked wet, draggled, and miry, but
full of spirits. As we stepped from the carriage, a porter
took charge of our twelve packages.

AYe had received previously full and explicit informa-
tion from the passenger department as to the trains and
expense of transit, and had engaged a horse box to HulL
One of the officials, seemed rather astonished, when he
found three donkeys, were to be conveyed in the horse-
box, he scarcely seemed able to connect a horse-box, with
the proposed freight.

A stray policeman seemed puzzled at the retinue.
The three gipsies, saluting us with ShaiDsJion laugh^
Sir 9 (How do you do. Sir?) marched up and down the


platform, apparently mucli pleased at our arrival. Tlie
stray policeman wandered about, as if lie was up, and
down, and nohow, as to what it all meant, or whether the
gipsies, belonged to us, or themselves. He was lingering
near, when we produced a 10/. Bank of England note at
the booking-office, in pa3aiient for our tickets. A new
light then beamed on his mind, and we did not sec him
again. The horse-box was paid for. The porter got
labels for all our packages, and timidly ventured to
inquire the use of the tent-rods, which he had curiously
regarded for some time. We secured a second-class, and
a first-class compartment in the same carriage, all was
arranged, the signal was given, and we were off. We
had only one change — at Leeds — and no stoppage. The
horse-box went right through. A pleasant compagnon cle
voyage^ accompanied us most of the journey ; lie had
lately come from the blue skies of Italy.

The gipsies were joined by an inquisitive fellow-
ti'aveller, in a white hat. Some people trouble them-
selves about everybody else's business but their own.
He cross-examined them, as to who we were, and where
we came from. " Gloucestershire," said Noah — " we all
came from Gloucestershire this morning." " You must
have started very early," said the inquisitive traveller.
" Oh, yes," said Noah with emphasis — " very early."

It was a damp, wet morning, as we arrived on Friday,
the 17tli June, 1871, at the Hull station, and found
ourselves on the platform. We left the gipsies, to look
after the donkeys, which were put in some stables at the
station ; and taking all our things in a cab to the Albion
steamer, we put them on board. IMessrs. Wilson were
called upon. They are prompt men of business ; to


their word iu all things. Ample arrangements would
be made to shelter the donkeys during the voyage, and
we jxiid our fare. At the station on our return we found
a civil porter waiting for us, and having paid the stout
stableman 1.?. for each donkey, the gipsies took them ou
board about one or two o'clock in the day.

Much curiosity was created when the gipsies came on
deck. The steward of the vessel said, they seemed to
have lately come from a warm country.

The Albion steamer had small, but comfortable second-
class accommodation. No meal could be had until seven
o'clock ; but the second steward managed to get the
gipsies some sandwiches and ale. They had been fed en
route in the morning, and were quite satisfied, with the
refreshments so provided.

During the previous wet night, they had camped some
distance from the starting point, and had ridden the
donkeys through the rain to the railway station. Noah
and Zacharia had no great-coats, but Esmeralda was
dressed in her long Alpine cloak, and treble necklace of
blue, and white beads. Her straw hat was surmounted
by a small plume of feathers, dyed blue, by one of her
brothers. She did not wear earrings, and had no other

We had left the steamer to obtain some methylated
spirit for our Russian lamp, and to call at Messrs.
Wilson and Co.'s, when we remembered, that we had
forgotten our Avatch-keys. A watchmaker's shop was
soon found. The watchmaker was a merry-looking man.
The watch had always been provided with one key to
wind it up, and another to regulate the hands. We had
always been assured, that two different keys, were re-


quired. " Ha ! lia ! ! lia ! ! ! " lauglied tlie watclimaker,
wlio was apparently a German, " I will give you one key
which will do the same thing — ha ! ha ! ! ha ! ! ! "

It was a beautifully formed key, nor had we ever met
with one like it before.

The watchmaker appeared to us as a second Jean
Batiste ScJiwiJcjue of Strasbourg.* " Ha ! ha ! ! ha ! ! ! "
lauglied the merry little man, " all is mystery. We eat
and drink, but we comprehend nothing. Ah ! we often
end in believing nothing.^' We remarked that no one
who contemplated with attention the works of Nature
could overlook the design of a great Creator. The
watchmaker went to an inner door. A pretty girl pro-
bably his daughter, changed a shilling for him. " Ah ! "
continued he, " you see by travel ; you take in through
the eyes ; they are the great vehicles of human life. I
laugh at them, ha ! ha ! ! ha ! ! ! " and he bowed as I left
the shop.

We were now nearly ready for the voyage; as we
passed from the gates of the railway station an interest-
ing-looking boy, pleaded hard to black our boots. It is
an honest way of making a livelihood. In this instance
we stepped aside — one boot was just finished, when
he suddenly bolted. Although he did not wait for
his money, he did not forget the paraphernalia of his
business. Another boy explained, that he was not al-
lowed to black boots so near the station, and a police-
man in the distance had caused his hasty disappearance.

The boy again met us soon after, and completed his
work ; we were glad to have the chance of paying him.

* Jean Batiste Sclnvilgiic was Lorn at Strasbourg, 18tli Dec, 1776, and
completed the celebrated clock in the Strasbourg Catliedral.


When we went on board tlie steamer, all Avas confu-
sion. On the wharf, we had Is. wharfage, to pay for each
anhnal. The total expenses of our party to join the
steamer amounted to 10/. 95. G^/. inckuling Gs. lid. for
hay, supplied to the donkeys for the voyage.

The evening w^as damp and gloomy. An old weather-
beaten Norwegian pilot w^andered about the deck. Men
in oilskin coats, smelling strongly of tar and tobacco-
quid, hustle and bustle, against everything. Very com-
fortable accommodation, had been erected specially for
the animals near the engines, in the waist of the steamer.
Esmeralda was feeding them with hay.

When the gipsies were afterwards looking over the
side of the vessel, they formed an interesting group.
Then came the active steward, of the second cabin, who
promised us to take care of them. The second steward
was a small, but firmly-knit, active young fellow, who
said he had been wrecked twice, in the old coat he was
then wearing, and for which, therefore, he had a strong-
affection ; after saying he should go next winter to Cali-
fornia, he left us to look after his many arrangements.

We were informed that Sir Charles Mordaunt and
also Lord Muncaster,* who had so narrowly escaped the

* It may be that the noble descendant of the Pennmgtons owed his
almost miraciilous escape, to his possession of the curionsly-wronght
enamelled glass cup, given by King Henry the Vlth after the battle of
Hexham, 1463, to his ancestor, Sir John de Pennington, knt., with a prayer
that the family should ever prosper, and never want a male heir, as long as
the cup remained unbroken. The cup is called the " Luck of Muncaster,"
and Muncaster Castle, and its long broad windiug terrace, commanding
magnificent \aews over the valley of Eskdale, is one of those enchanted
spots which we meet with in the picturesque county of Climberland. It is
singular that another family in Cumberland also possess a similar talisman,
to which is attached a rare value, " The Luck of Edenhall," belonging to


Athenian brigands, liad left Hull in the special steamer
for TJirondhjem on the previous evening.

tlie ancient family of Musgrave. It is an old enamelled drinking glass,
said to have been seized in olden time by a Bntler of Eden Hall from
some fairies lie surprised dancing near St. Cutlibert's well in the Park.
The glass had been left by the fairies near the brink of the well, and the
fairies, failing to recover it, vanished with the words —

" If that glass either break or fall,
Farewell the Lnck of Edenhall."

An interesting account is given of the " Luck of Edenhall " in Roby'g
interesting " Tales and Traditions of Lancashire."


" Zarca. It is well.

You sliall not long count days in weariness :
Ere the full moon has waned again to new,
"We shall reach Almeria ; Berber ships
Will take us for their freight, and we shall go
"With plenteous spoil, not stolen, bravely won
By service done on Spaniards. Do you shrink ?
Are you aught less than a Zincala ?"

George Eliot's S'panish Gipsy.

England's farewell — summer tourists — the chevalier — seafaring


The steamer's saloon was elegantly fitted up. Bouquets
of flowers shed tlieir fragrance on each table ; books,
pens, and ink had been supplied for the use of the
voyagers. One passenger soon entered, carrying a long
sword ; another — a French gentleman — followed, and ex-
pressed a wish to be in the same cabin with his wife. We
have pleasure in saying that we found the captain very
agreeable, and courteous.

The Alhim steamer left the Hull docks at eight o'clock
the same evening, being towed out In' a steam-tug. The
under-steward, went to meet some passengers, whose
arrival was expected b}" a late train, but returned without
having found them. The gipsies and ourself, as we stood
looking over the bulwarks of the steamer, took our last
view of the fading shore, and tlie steamer was soon fairly


on lier voyage. Our gipsies were almost famished ; but
we managed to get tliem some tea, at nine o'clock, and
they went off to bed.

Our cabin was one of the best in the steamer. AVe
awoke as daylight dawned through the open bull's-eye
window of our upper berth. Not feeling decidedly well,
or ill, we got up, to see how we were ; then we had some
conversation, with our fellow-passenger in the berth
below. (AVe were the only two occupants of the cabin.)
This traveller, who was invisible behind the curtain of
his berth, informed us that he was going on business to
Gottenberg; while we told him, that we were going to
make a tour, in the wilds of Norway.

When we sought our gipsies, we found that they were
not up. In company with several of our fellow-passengers,
Ave afterwards sat down to a capital breakfast provided
for us in the saloon. The steamer had its usual comple-
ment of travellers to Norway in summer — some for fish-
ing, some for health, and some for business.

One pale, gentlemanly passenger, whose acrpiaintance
we made, had met with an accident to his leg. Another
agreeable tourist, whom we will call Mr. C, was accom-
panied by his wife — a tall young lady, with a Tyrolese
hat and feather. A young invalid officer, just returned
from Italy, had had the Roman fever, and was given up ; he
had, however, recovered sufficiently to travel, and intended
going to Lyngdal to join some friends. There were also
two or three Norwegian gentlemen (one of tliem, a
Chevalier de I'Ordre de Wasa), a Scotch traveller with a
large sandy beard, and a tall, portly gentleman, going to
visit some friends near Christiania.

Finding we had three donkeys on board, the Chevalier



and another passenger accomj^anied lis to see them. The
first-named gentleman, was especially interested in our
proposed excursion. How shall Ave describe him ?

He was rather under middle height, thick-set, and
strongly built ; and occasionally his countenance ex-
pressed, much animation, and good-humoured energy.
The information he possessed was extensive ; he spoke
English perfectly ; had travelled much, and knew Scan-
dinavia, and its people well.

The donkeys were declared very fine ones, especially
the large light-coloured animal, with a dark cross on its
shoulders, long, finely-formed legs, and beautiful head.
This donkey was about six years old, and we called it
the Puru Rawnee.*

The next donkey, was a dark animal, five years old,
strong, but not so finely formed; although not so spirited,

* Puru Rawnee — old lady.


it eDclured all the fatigue of long travel, even better tlian
its two companions ; we called it the Puro Rye.*

The third was about four 5^ears old, with a beautiful
head, very lively, and was called the Tarno Rye.f They
seemed to relish the hay, and made themselves quite at

The donkeys became objects of special interest, and
the Puru Pawnee was mucli admired. Most of the pas-
sengers had something to recount as to their impressions.
A Norwegian gentleman said that they had no donkeys
in Norway, which we afterwards found to be quite
correct. Another good-humouredly said, that sixpence
each ought to be charged, and the entrance closed.
Many were the suggestions, and speculations, concerning
them by the passengers, as they quietly puffed their
cigars. The gentleman of the Roman fever, who seemed
to be improving each hour, said in a significant manner,
during a pause in the conversation, "You'll write a
book ; your experience will be interesting — you ought
to write a book.'''

We now went to find our gipsies, or what was left of
them. Esmeralda was lying on the deck, with her head on
a closed hatchway. She raised her head in a most doleful
manner, and said, " Very bad, sir." Noah was lying
next his sister, and sat up for a moment looking very
wild. Zacharia was extended full length, perfectly speech-
less. Evidently, they wished themselves on shore again.

Great curiosity was excited among the passengers to
see the gipsies. We explained, that they were in a very
prostrate condition — in fact, quite unable to hold nmch

* Puro Eye — old gentleman. In Turkish Eomany, pluiro -old.
t Tarno Eye — young gentleman.


intercourse, with the outer world ; but at length we
yielded, and introduced a party to them. The interview
was short, and as our gipsies were still lying on the deck,
and quite unahle to do the honours of the reception, we
soon left them in peace. The passengers were apparently
much pleased with the introduction.

They were real gipsies — gipsies who had all their life
roamed England with their tents — none of 3'our half-and-
half caravan people — an effeminate race, who sleep in
closed boxes, gaudily painted outside, with a stove, and a
large fire wdtliin. Ours were nomads, wdio slept on the
ground, and wandered wath their tents, during every
season of the year.

The steward took care we did not starve. Our dinner
was quite a success. The table groaned beneath the
weight of soup, salmon, roast beef, veal, ducks and green
peas, young potatoes, puddings, Stilton and Cheshire
cheese, &c., with excellent claret from a Norwegian
house at Christiania.

The gipsies did not give much sign of revival. During
the afternoon, we visited them now, and then, consoled
them, and gave the steward orders, to let them have
whatever they wanted.

AVe had a long conversation, with the Chevalier, as to
our route, through Norway. It had been our intention
to make Christiansand our starting-point, go through
the wilds of the Thelemarken, and visit again the Gousta
IMountain, and the Rjukan Fos. The Chevalier sug-
gested Christiania, as the best starting-point, taking-
railway to Eidsvold, wdiere, he said, Presten Eilert Sundt
resided. He then said, we could travel by road, or steamer,
to Lillehammer, and from thence through the Gud-


brand sdalen. He afterwards sketched out a very
long and interesting route, having its termination at
Christiansand, and we determined to follow as fiir as
possible his suggestions.

There were many inquiries by the passengers as to
how the gipsies fared, and we went to see them again
just before tea-time. Zacharia was in bed, and asleep ;
Noah was just getting into bed; and Esmeralda was
in the second-class women's cabin, with some tea, and
bread-and-butter before her, looking exceedingly poorly.
The close proximity to a stout woman who was dread-
fully sea-sick, was not enlivening.

The Norwegian pilot, who was a good-tempered old
man, had been much interested with the nails in the
gipsies' boots ; when they were lying on the deck, he
would sometimes stoop down to make a close inspection,
as if he were counting them. He said nothing, but
probably thought more.

The occupant of our cabin, when Ave saw him, was a
young man with an eye to business ; in fact, some ot
the passengers averred afterwards, that he could calculate
in a few moments, the exact amount, the steamer cost, to
a fourpenny nail. He seemed, however, to be very Vv'-ell
intentioned, in his inquisitive analysis of everybody, and
everything. He was said by some one to be a Birming-
ham bagman, whilst others said he was a wandering Jew ;
but whether Jew or Gentile, he took a decided interest in
the gipsies, and the donkeys, for which we suppose there
was some excuse. He had dark hair, eyebrows, and beard,
pale complexion, and generally walked with his hands in
his pockets, and his shoulders screwed up to the back of
his neck. His head, was inclined downwards, wjiilst he


looked at you, with large rolling eyes, from under his
bushy eyebrows, with a quick upward glance of inquiry.
Now and then, he would walk off to see the donkeys, and
report on his return, to the other passengers, his views
as to their state of comfort, and happiness.

Somehow his opinion, did not appear to have much
weight with the other passengers — whether it was from
want of intelligence on their part, or obscurity of per-
ception, we could not say. At tea-time he sat opposite
to us ; he dashed wildly into salad, and then said in a
loud voice across the table, " I have seen your donkeys ;
I should like to go with you." " You seem to like them,'*
we replied, "No!" exclaimed he, very wildly; "it is
3^our gipsies' dark eyes."

" He is insane," said the Chevalier, in an under tone,
to which we readily assented. The bagman certainly
did look wild ; and it immediately occurred to us that
he slept under our berth, in the same cabin — not a lively
contemplation, but we were determined, not to meet
trouble halfway.

AVe had entered up some of our notes, and had strolled
on deck to enjoy the freshness of the sea-breeze, when
we found ourselves one of a small party of passengers,
whiling away the time, in pleasant conversation, in which
our captain joined.

" You must write a book," said the officer who had
had the Roman fever.

" And dedicate it to you?" we rejoined.

" I will take one copy," said one passenger.

" I will take three copies," said our captain.

"Ah!" said another, "it should be on the saloon

>STliANGJ:: WILLf<. 33

"And tlien," said another, "it Vv^ill be interesting to
know tlie fate of the three donkeys."

AVe admitted that, after so much encouragement, we
must write a book, and dedicate it to the officer, who
had had the Roman fever.

Several anecdotes were rehrted. One passenger said,
" There was a house near Hyde Park, which formerly
belonged to an old gentleman, who left his property to
trustees on certain trusts, provided they buried him on
the top of his house."* Several instances were told of

Online LibraryHubert SmithTent life with English Gipsies in Norway → online text (page 3 of 37)