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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Or by a Gipsy called Christian


"In

the meanwhile the Gipsies had burst open the outward door of the house, with a beam of wood which chanced to be lying in the court-yard. They next forced the door of the sitting apartment, and were met by the poor clergyman, who prayed them at least to spare his life and that of his wife. But he spoke to men who knew no mercy; Hemperla struck him on the breast with a torch; and receiving the blow as a signal for death, the poor man staggered back to the table, and sinking in a chair, leaned his head on his hand, and expected the mortal blow. In this posture Hemperla shot him dead with a pistol. The wife of the clergyman endeavoured to fly, on witnessing the murder of her husband, but was dragged back, and slain by a pistol-shot, fired either by Essper George, or by a Gipsy called Christian. By a crime so dreadful those murderers only gained four silver cups, fourteen silver spoons, some trifling articles of apparel, and about twenty-two florins in money. They might have made more important booty, but the sentinel, whom they left on the outside, now intimated to them that the hamlet was alarmed, and that it was time to retire, which they did accordingly, undisturbed and in safety.

"The Gipsies committed many enormities similar to those above detailed, and arrived at such a pitch of audacity as even to threaten the person of the Landgrave himself; an enormity at which Dr. Wiessenburch, who never introduces the name or titles of that prince without

printing them in letters of at least an inch long, expresses becoming horror. This was too much to be endured. Strong detachments of troops and militia scoured the country in different directions, and searched the woods and caverns which served the banditti for places of retreat. These measures were for some time attended with little effect. The Gipsies had the advantages of a perfect knowledge of the country, and excellent intelligence. They baffled the efforts of the officers detached against them, and, on one or two occasions, even engaged them with advantage. And when some females, unable to follow the retreat of the men, were made prisoners on such an occasion, the leaders caused it to be intimated to the authorities at Giessen that if their women were not set at liberty, they would murder and rob on the high roads, and plunder and burn the country. This state of warfare lasted from 1718 until 1726, during which period the subjects of the Landgrave suffered the utmost hardships, as no man was secure against nocturnal surprise of his property and person.

"At length, in the end of 1725, a heavy and continued storm of snow compelled the Gipsy hordes to abandon the woods which had long served them as a refuge, and to approach more near to the dwellings of men. As their movements could be traced and observed, the land-lieutenant, Krocker, who had been an assistant to the murdered Emerander, received intelligence of a band of Gipsies having appeared in the district of Sohnsassenheim, at a village called Fauerbach. Being aided by a party of soldiers and volunteers, he had the luck to secure the whole gang, being twelve men and women. Among these was the notorious Hemperla, who was dragged by the heels from an oven in which he was attempting to conceal himself. Others were taken in the same manner, and imprisoned at Giessen, with a view to their trial.


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