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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Between Falkirk and Linlithgow


and Jamieson, like others of the superior classes of Gipsies, gave tokens of protection to their particular friends of the community generally. The butchers of Linlithgow, when they went to the country, with money to buy cattle, frequently procured these assurances from the Gipsies. The shoemakers did likewise, when they had to go to distant markets with their shoes. Linlithgow appears even to have been under the special protection of these banditti. Mr. George Hart, and Mr. William Baird, two of the most respectable merchants of Bo'ness, who had been peddlers in their early years, scrupled not to say that, when travelling through the country, they were seldom without tokens from the Gipsies. But if the Gipsies were kind to those who kept on good terms with them, they, on the other hand, vindictively tormented their enemies. They would steal sheep, and put the blood and parts of the animal about the premises of those they hated, that they might be suspected of the theft, searched and affronted by the enquiries made about the stolen property.

When McDonald and Jamieson attacked individuals on the highway, or elsewhere, and were satisfied that they had little or no money, they were just as ready to supply their wants as to rob them. The idea of plundering the wealthy, and giving the booty to the poor, gives the Gipsies great satisfaction. The standard by which this people's conduct can be measured, must be sought for among the robber tribes of

Tartary, Afghanistan, or Arabia. Many of our Scottish Gipsies have, indeed, been as ready to give a purse as take one; and it cannot be said that they have lacked in the display of a certain degree of honour peculiar to themselves, as the following well-authenticated fact will illustrate.[90]

[90] Instances have occurred in which an Afghan has received a stranger with all the rights of hospitality, and afterwards, meeting him in the open country, has robbed him. The same person, it is supposed, who would plunder a cloak from a traveller who had one, would give a cloak to one who had none.--_Hugh Murray's Asia, vol. 2, page 508._

A gentleman, whose name is not mentioned, while travelling, under night, between Falkirk and Linlithgow, fell in, on the road, with a man whom he did not know. During the conversation which ensued, he mentioned to the stranger that he was afraid of being attacked, for many a one, he observed, had been robbed on that road. He then urged that they should return, as the safest plan for them both. The stranger, however, replied that he had often travelled the road, yet had never been troubled by any one. After some further conversation, he put his hand into his pocket, and gave the traveller a knife, with which he was desired to proceed without fear.[91] The traveller now perfectly understood the relation that existed between them, and continued his journey with confidence; but he had not proceeded far ere he was accosted by a foot-pad, to whom he produced the knife. The pad looked at it carefully, said nothing, but passed on, without giving the traveller the slightest annoyance. It is needless to say that the mysterious stranger was no other than the notorious Captain McDonald. The traveller, by his fears and the nature of his conversation, had plainly informed McDonald of his being possessed of money--a considerable quantity of which he had, indeed, with him--and had the love of booty been the Gipsy's sole and constant object, how easily could he, in this instance, have possessed himself of it. But the stronger had put himself, in a measure, under the protection of the robber, who disdained to take advantage of the confidence reposed in him.

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