Gypsy Folk Tales, by Francis Hindes Groome, , at sacred-texts.com
Sometimes, I scarce know why, the eloquence and the ingenuity of folklorists suggest these reminiscences; anyhow, I doubt if to
folklorists my theory is likely to commend itself. From solar myths, savage philosophy, archæan survivals, polyonymy, relics of Druidism, polygamous frameworks, and such-like high-sounding themes, it is a terrible come-down to Gypsies = gipsies = tramps. 1 So I look for most folklorists to scout my theory, and to maintain that the Turkish Gypsies picked up their folk-tales from Turks or Greeks, the Roumanian Gypsies theirs from Roumans, the Hungarian Gypsies theirs from Magyars, the English and Welsh Gypsies theirs from the English and Welsh, the ------ Hold! hold! pray where are the English or Welsh originals of our Gypsy versions of The Master Thief,' 'The Little Peasant,' Frederick and Catherine,' 'Ferdinand the Faithful,' 'The Master Smith,' 'The Robber Bridegroom,' or 'Strong Hans'? where those of such English and Welsh Gypsy stories as The Black Dog of the Wild Forest,' 'De Little Bull-calf,' 'Jack and his Golden Snuff-box,' or An Old King and his Three Sons in England'? It may be answered that the last three are in Mr. Joseph Jacobs' English Fairy Tales (2 vols. 1890-94). I know those stories are there; they form nearly ten per cent. of Mr. Jacobs' entire collection; but have they any business to be there? I have John Roberts' manuscript of An Old King' before me now; it opens--'Adoi ses yecker porro koreelish, to ses les trin chavay.' You may render that, as I rendered it, into English, 'There was once an old king, and he had three sons'; but that does not make the story an English one. No; so far as our present information goes, An Old King' is a Welsh-Gypsy folk-tale. 2
There is at least one other story in Mr. Jacobs' collection that may be Gypsy, not English. This is 'The Three Feathers,' which, Mrs. Gomme tells me, was collected from some Deptford hop-pickers by a lady now in America. Not all hop-pickers are Gypsies, but a goodly proportion are, as I know from old walks among Kentish and Surrey hop-gardens. 'The Three Feathers' is a variant of Laura Gonzenbach's Sicilian story of 'Feledico and Epomata' (No. 55, i. 251), of an incident in Campbell's Gaelic story of 'The Battle of the Birds' (No. 2, i. 36, 50), of one in Kennedy's Irish story of 'The Brown Bear of Norway' (p. 63), and of one in the Norse story of ' The Master-maid.'
lxxv:1 That, however, is a vulgar error; the Gypsies are one of the purest races in Europe.
lxxv:2 I have sometimes wondered, what if a folklorist, making a little tour in Wales, in a Welsh inn-garden had come on a venerable Welsh harper, playing ancient Welsh airs, and speaking Welsh more fluently than English? He would have drawn him, of course, for folk-tales, and to! a perfect mine of them--long, unpublished stories, all about magic snuff-boxes and magic balls of yarn, the kings of the mice and the frogs and the fowls of the air, griffins of the greenwood, p. lxxvi golden apples and golden castles, sleeping princesses, and all the rest of it. 'Eureka!' that folklorist would have shouted, and straightway meditated a new Welsh Mabinogion. Welsh--Celtic--not at all necessarily; his old Welsh bard might have been just John Roberts the Gypsy.