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somewhat remarkable—as far as their harsh gibberish can be understood, they seem to say that the
name of their clan is Curleople. Now the termination of this word is apparently Grecian: and as Mezeray and the gravest historians all agree that these vagrants did certainly migrate from Egypt and the East, two or three centuries ago, and so spread by degrees over Europe, may not this family name, a little corrupted, be the very name they brought with them from the Levant? It would be matter of some curiosity, could one meet with an intelligent person among them, to inquire whether, in their jargon, they still retain any Greek words : the Greek radicals will appear in hand, foot, head, water, earth, &c. It is possible that amidst their cant and corrupted dialect many mutilated remains of their native language might still be discovered.
With regard to those peculiar people, the gypsies, one thing is very remarkable, and especially as they came from warmer climates; and that is, that while other beggars lodge in barns, stables, and cowhouses, these sturdy savages seem to pride themselves in braving the severities of winter, and in living in the open air the whole year round. Last September was as wet a month as ever was known; and yet during those deluges did a young gypsygirl lie-in in the midst of one of our hop-gardens, on the cold ground, with nothing over her but a piece of blanket extended on a few hazel-rods bent hoopfashion, and stuck into the earth at each end, in circumstances too trying for a cow in the same condition : vet within this garden there was a large hop-kiln, into the chambers of which she might have retired had she thought shelter an object worthy her attention.
Europe, itself, it seems, cannot set bounds to the rovings of these vagabonds; for Mr. Bell, in his return from Pekin, met a gang of these people on the confines of Tartary, who were endeavouring to
penetrate those deserts and try their fortune in China.*
Gypsies are called in French, Bohemians; in Italian and modern Greek, Zingari.
SELBORNE, Oct. 2, 1775.
TO THE HONOURABLE DAINES BARRINGTON.
“ Hic ...tædæ pingues, hîc plurimus ignis
(VIRG. Ecl, vii. 49, 50.)
I SHALL make no apology for troubling you with the detail of a very simple piece of domestic econ
omy, being satisfied that you think nothing beneath your attention that tends to utility: the matter alluded to is the
use of rushes instead of candles, which I am well aware prevails
in many districts besides this ; but as I know there are countries also where it does not obtain, and as
I have considered the subject with A rush-light. some degree of exactness, I shall pro
* See Bell's “ Travels in China.”
ceed with my humble story, and leave you to judge of the expediency.
The proper species of rush for this purpose seems to be the Juncus conglomeratus, or common soft rush, which is to be found in most moist pastures, by the sides of streams, and under hedges. These rushes are in best condition in the height of summer; but may be gathered, so as to serve the purpose well, quite on to autumn. It would be needless to add that the largest and longest are best. Decayed labourers, women, and children, make it their business to procure and prepare them. As soon as they are cut they must be flung into the water, and kept there ; for otherwise they will dry and shrink; and the peel will not run. At first a person would find it no easy matter to divest a rush of its peel or rind, so as to leave one regular, narrow, even rib from top to bottom that may support the pith: but this, like other feats, soon becomes familiar even to children; and we have seen an old woman, stone. blind, performing this business with great despatch, and seldom failing to strip them with the nicest regularity. When these junci are thus far prepared, they must lie out on the grass to be bleached, and take the dew for some nights, and afterwards be dried in the sun.
Some address is required in dipping these rushes in the scalding fat or grease; but this knack also is to be attained by practice. The careful wife of an
industrious Hampshire labourer obtains all her fat for nothing; for she saves the scummings of her bacon-pot for this use; and, if the grease abounds with salt, she causes the salt to precipitate to the bottom, by setting the scummings in a warm oven. Where hogs are not much in use, and especially by the sea-side, the coarser animal oils will come very cheap. A pound of common grease may be procured for fourpence; and about six pounds of grease will dip a pound of rushes; and one pound of rushes may be bought for one shilling ; so that a pound of rushes, medicated and ready for use, will cost three shillings. If men that keep bees will mix a little wax with the grease, it will give it a consistency, and render it more cleanly, and make the rushes burn longer; mutton-suet will have the same effect.
A good rush, which measured in length two feet four inches and a half, being minuted, burnt only three minutes short of an hour: and a rush still of greater length has been known to burn one hour and a quarter.
These rushes give a good clear light. Watchlights (coated with tallow), it is true, shed a dismal one, “ darkness visible;" but then the wicks of those have two ribs of the rind, or peel, to support the pith, while the wick of the dipped rush has but one. The two ribs are intended to impede the progress of the flame and make the candle last. In a pound of dry rushes, avoirdupois, which I