Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/57

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37
THE COMPRACHICOS.

applicable to vagrants (who, it must be owned, readily became malefactors), and particularly to Gipsies, whose expulsion has erroneously been compared to the expulsion of the Jews and the Moors from Spain, and the Protestants from France. As for us, we do not confound a battue with a persecution.

The Comprachicos, we insist, had nothing in common with the Gipsies. The Gipsies were a nation; the Comprachicos were a compound of all nations,—the lees of a horrible vessel full of filthy waters. The Comprachicos had not, like the Gipsies a vernacular of their own; their jargon was a promiscuous collection of idioms; all languages were mixed together in their language; they spoke a medley. Like the Gipsies, they had come to be a people winding through the peoples; but their common tie was association, not race. At all epochs in history one finds in the vast liquid mass which constitutes humanity some of these streams of venomous men exuding poison around them. The Gipsies were a tribe; the Comprachicos, a freemasonry,—a masonry having not a noble aim, but a hideous handicraft. Finally, their religions differed: the Gipsies were Pagans; the Comprachicos were Christians, and more than that, good Christians, as became an association which, although a mixture of all nations, owed its birth to Spain, a devout land. They were more than Christians, they were Catholics; they were more than Catholics, they were Romanists; and they were so devoted in their faith, and so pure, that they refused to associate with the Hungarian nomads of the comitat of Pesth, commanded and led by an old man, having for sceptre a wand with a silver ball, surmounted by the double-headed Austrian eagle. It is true that these Hungarians were schismatics, to the extent of celebrating the Assumption on the 29th of August, which is an abomination.