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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

The delighted packman failed not to extol


William,

with his numerous horde, happened to fall in with a travelling packman, on a wild spot between Hawkshaw and Menzion, near the source of the Tweed. The packman was immediately commanded to halt, and lay his packs upon the ground. Baillie then unsheathed his broadsword, with which he was always armed, and, with the point of the weapon, drew, on the ground, a circle around the trembling packman and his wares. Within this circle no one of the tribe was allowed by him to enter but himself.[133] The poor man was now ordered to unbuckle his packs, and exhibit his merchandise to the Gipsies. Baillie, without the least ceremony, helped himself to some of the most valuable things in the pack, and gave a great many to the members of his band. The unfortunate merchant, well aware of the character of his customers, concluded himself a ruined man; and, in place of making any resistance, handed away his property to the Gipsies. But when they were satisfied, he was most agreeably surprised by Baillie taking out his purse, and paying him, on the spot, a great deal more than the value of every article he had taken for himself and given to his band. The delighted packman failed not to extol, wherever he went, the gentlemanly conduct and extraordinary liberality of "Captain Baillie"--a title by which he was known all over the country.

[133] Bruce, in his travels, when speaking of the protection afforded by the Arabs to shipwrecked Christians, on the coasts of

the Red Sea, says:--"The Arabian, with his lance, draws a circle large enough to hold you and yours. He then strikes his lance in the sand, and bids you abide within the circle. You are thus as safe, on the desert coast of Arabia, as in a citadel; there is no example or exception to the contrary that has ever been known."--_Bruce's Travels in Abyssinia._

The perilous situations in which Baillie was often placed did not repress the merry jocularity and sarcastic wit which he, in common with many of his tribe, possessed. He sometimes almost bearded and insulted the judge while sitting on the bench. On one of these occasions, when he was in court, the judge, provoked at seeing him so often at the bar, observed to him that he would assuredly get his ears cut out of his head, if he did not mend his manners, and abandon his way of life. "That I defy you to do, my lord," replied the Tinkler. The judge, perceiving that his ears had already been "nailed to the tron, and cut off," and being displeased at the effrontery and levity of his conduct, told him that he was certainly a great villain. "I am not such a villain as your lordship," retorted Baillie. "What do you say?" rejoined the judge, in great surprise at the bold manner of the criminal. "I say," continued the Gipsy, "that I am not such a villain as your lordship ---- takes me to be." "William," quoth the judge, "put your words closer together, otherwise you shall have cause to repent of your insolence and audacity."[134]

[134] It might be supposed that the pride of a Gipsy would have the good effect of rendering him cautious not to be guilty of such crimes as subject him to public shame. But here his levity of character is rendered conspicuous; for he never looks to the right or to the left in his transactions; and though his conceit and pride are somewhat humbled, during the time of punishment, and while the consequent pain lasts; these being over, he no longer remembers his disgrace, but entertains quite as good an opinion of himself as before.--_Grellmann on the Hungarian Gipsies._--ED.


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