Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, , at sacred-texts.com
Of the four stories which I cite (No. 73-76) from J. F. Campbell's Popular Tales of the West Highlands (4 vols. 1860-62), three were told by John MacDonald, travelling tinker, and the fourth by his old father. 'John,' Hector Urquhart writes, 'wanders all over the Highlands, and lives in a tent with his family. He can neither read nor write. He repeats some of his stories by heart fluently, and almost in the same words. I have followed his recitation as closely as possible, but it was exceedingly difficult to keep him stationary for any length of time.' To which Campbell himself adds:--'The tinker's comments on "The Brown Bear of the Green Glen " I got from the transcriber. John himself is a character. He is about fifty years of age. His father, an old soldier, is alive and about eighty; and there are numerous younger branches; and they were all encamped under the root of a tree in a quarry close to Inverary, at Easter 1859. The father tells many stories, but his memory is failing. The son told me several, and I have a good many of them written down. They both recite; they do not simply tell the story, but act it with changing voice and gesture, as if they took an interest in it, and entered into the spirit and fun of the tale. They belong to the race of "Cairds," and are as much nomads as the gipsies are. The father, to use the son's expression, "never saw a school." He served in the 42d in his youth. One son makes horn spoons, and does not know a single story; the other is a sporting character, a famous fisherman, who knows all the lochs and rivers in the Highlands, makes flies, and earns money in summer by teaching Southerns to fish. His ambition is to become an under-keeper' (i. 174-5).
There are three points to be specially noticed here. First, if I mistake not, these two tinkers, father and son, are the only Gaelic story-tellers whom Campbell describes as reciting and acting their stories; he repeats the same of the son in a passage which I quote on p. 288. Secondly, the father told 'many stories,' but one does not learn what they were, except that Campbell got from him a version of 'Osean after the Feen' (ii. 106), that the son 'argued points' in the story of 'Conal Crovi' (i. 142), and that he knew the story of the 'Shifty Lad,' though not well enough to repeat it (i. 353) 'Many stories' should mean more than these three and the
four of our text. Lastly, these MacDonalds are said to 'belong to the race of "Cairds," and to be as much nomads as the gipsies are.' But the question arises, Are they not Gypsies, or half-breed Gypsies, or quarter-breed Gypsies at any rate? To the Gypsy Lore Journal for January 1891, pp. 319-20, D. Fearon Ranking, LL.D., contributed this paper:--