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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

For Grellmann adds After a short time


[This Gipsy fray at Hawick is known among the English Gipsies as "the Battle of the Bridge."--ED.]

In this battle, it was said that every Gipsy, except Alexander Kennedy, the brave chief, was severely wounded; and that the ground on which they fought was wet with blood. Jean Gordon, however, stole, unobserved, from her band, and, taking a circuitous road, came behind Kennedy, and struck him on the head with her cudgel. What astonished the inhabitants of Hawick the most of all, was the fierce and stubborn disposition of the Gipsy females. It was remarked that, when they were knocked down senseless to the ground, they rose again, with redoubled vigour and energy, to the combat. This unconquerable obstinacy and courage of their females is held in high estimation by the tribe. I once heard a Gipsy sing a song, which celebrated one of their battles; and, in it, the brave and determined manner in which the girls bore the blows of the cudgel over their heads was particularly applauded.

The battle at Hawick was not decisive to either party. The hostile bands, a short time afterwards, came in contact, in Ettrick Forest, at a place, on the water of Teema, called Deephope. They did not, however, engage here; but the females on both sides, at some distance from one another, with a stream between them, scolded and cursed, and, clapping their hands, urged the males again to fight. The men, however, more cautious, only

observed a sullen and gloomy silence at this meeting. Probably both parties, from experience, were unwilling to renew the fight, being aware of the consequences which would follow, should they again close in battle. The two clans then separated, each taking different roads, but both keeping possession of the disputed district. In the course of a few days, they again met in Eskdale moor, when a second desperate conflict ensued. The Taits were here completely routed, and driven from the district, in which they had attempted to travel by force.

The country-people were horrified at the sight of the wounded Tinklers, after these sanguinary engagements. Several of them, lame and exhausted, in consequence of the severity of their numerous wounds, were, by the assistance of their tribe, carried through the country on the backs of asses; so much were they cut up in their persons. Some of them, it was said, were slain outright, and never more heard of. Jean Ruthven, however, who was so dreadfully slashed, recovered from her wounds, to the surprise of all who had seen her mangled body, which was sewed in different parts by her clan. These battles were talked of for thirty miles around the country. I have heard old people speak of them, with fear and wonder at the fierce, unyielding disposition of the willful and vindictive Tinklers.[128]

[128] Grellmann, on the Hungarian Gipsies, says: "They are loquacious and quarrelsome in the highest degree. In the public markets, and before ale-houses, where they are surrounded by spectators, they bawl, spit at each other, catch up sticks and cudgels, vapour and brandish them over their heads, throw dust and dirt; now run from each other, then back again, with furious gestures and threats. The women scream, drag their husbands by force from the scene of action; these break from them again, and return to it. The children, too, howl piteously." But I am at a loss to understand the object of such an affray, as given by this author, on any other theory than that of collecting crowds, in the places mentioned, to enable them the more easily to pick pockets. For Grellmann adds: "After a short time, without any persons interfering, when they have cried and make a noise till they are tired, and without either party having received any personal injury, the affair terminates, and they separate with as much ostentation as if they had performed the most heroic feat."--ED.


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