Cornelius Van Paun, more generally known as De Paun, in his Philosophical Researches on the Egyptians and Chinese, published at Paris, 1774, advances the theory that Freemasonry originated with the Gypsies. He says: ' Every person who was not guilty of some crime could obtain admission to the lesser mysteries. Those vagabonds called Egyptian priests in Greece and Italy required considerable sums for initiation; and their successors, the Gypsies, practice similar mummeries to obtain money.
And thus was Freemasonry introduced into Europe. "But De Paun is remarkable for the paradoxical character of his opinions. James Simpson, who has written a rather exhaustive History of the Gypsies, published in 1866, points out (page 387)," a considerable resemblance between Gypsyism, in its harmless aspect, and Freemasonry with this difference, that the former is a general, while the latter is a special, society; that is to say, the Gypsies have the language, or some of the words and the signs peculiar to the whole race, which each individual or class will use for different purposes. The race does not necessarily, and does not in fact, have intercourse with every other member of it. In that respect they resemble any ordinary community of men." And he adds: "There are many Gypsies Freemasonry; indeed, they are the very people to push their way into a Freemasons Lodge; for they have secrets of their own, and are naturally anxious to pry into those of others, by which they may be benefitted. I was told of a Gypsy who died, lately, the Master of a Freemasons' Lodge. A friend, a Freemason, told me the other day of his having entered a house in Yetholm where were five Gypsies, all of whom responded to his Masonic signs." But it must be remembered that Simpson is writing of the Gypsies of Scotland, a kingdom where the race is considerably advanced above those of any other country in civilization and in social position.
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