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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Especially at the hands of the Gipsy women


[37] This is the only continental writer, that I am aware of, who mentions the circumstance of the Gipsies having districts to themselves, from which others of their race were excluded. This author also speaks of the German Gipsies stealing children. John Bunyan admits the same practice in England, when he compares his feelings, as a sinner, to those of a child carried off by Gipsies. He gives the Gipsy _women_ credit for this practice.--ED.

"In former times, these outcasts were not permitted to bear arms in the service of any Christian power, but the long wars of Louis XIV had abolished this point of delicacy; and both in the French army, and those of the confederates, the stoutest and boldest of the Gipsies were occasionally enlisted, by choice or compulsion. These men generally tired soon of the rigour of military discipline, and escaping from their regiments on the first opportunity, went back to their forests, with some knowledge of arms, and habits bolder and more ferocious than those of their predecessors. Such deserters soon become leaders among the tribes, whose enterprises became, in proportion, more audacious and desperate.

"In Germany, as in most other kingdoms of Europe, severe laws had been directed against this vagabond people, and the Landgraves of Hesse had not been behind-hand in such denunciations. They were, on their arrest, branded as vagabonds, punished with stripes, and banished

from the circle; and, in case of their return, were put to death without mercy. These measures only served to make them desperate. Their bands became more strong and more open in their depredations. They often marched as strong as fifty or a hundred armed men; bade defiance to the ordinary police, and plundered the villages in open day; wounded and slew the peasants, who endeavoured to protect their property; and skirmished, in some instances successfully, with parties of soldiers and militia, dispatched against them. Their chiefs, on these occasions, were John La Fortune, a determined villain, otherwise named Hemperla; another called the Great Gallant; his brother, Antony Alexander, called the Little Gallant; and others, entitled Lorries, Lampert, Gabriel, &c. Their ferocity may be judged of from the following instances:

"On the 10th October, 1724, a land-lieutenant, or officer of police, named Emerander, set off with two assistants to disperse a band of Gipsies who had appeared near Hirzenhayn, in the territory of Stolberg. He seized on two or three stragglers whom he found in the village, and whom, females as well as males, he seems to have treated with much severity. Some, however, escaped to a large band which lay in an adjacent forest, who, under command of the Great Gallant, Hemperla, Antony Alexander, and others, immediately put themselves in motion to rescue their comrades, and avenge themselves of Emerander. The land-lieutenant had the courage to ride out to meet them, with his two attendants, at the passage of a bridge, where he fired his pistol at the advancing gang, and called out 'charge,' as if he had been at the head of a party of cavalry. The Gipsies, however, aware, from the report of the fugitives, how weakly the officer was accompanied, continued to advance to the end of the bridge, and ten or twelve, dropping each on one knee, gave fire on Emerander, who was then obliged to turn his horse and ride off, leaving his two assistants to the mercy of the banditti. One of these men, called Hempel, was instantly beaten down, and suffered, especially at the hands of the Gipsy women, much cruel and abominable outrage. After stripping him of every rag of his clothes, they were about to murder the wretch outright; but at the earnest instance of the landlord of the inn, they contented themselves with beating him dreadfully, and imposing on him an oath that he never more would persecute any Gipsy, or save any _fleshman_, (dealer in human flesh,) for so they called the officers of justice or police.[38]


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