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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

At the end of Linlithgow bridge


the following morning, McDonald's wife requested permission to visit her husband before being led to execution, with what particular object can only be conjectured; a favour which was readily granted her, in the company of a magistrate. On beholding the object of her affection, she became overwhelmed with grief; she threw her arms around his neck, and embraced him most tenderly; and after giving vent to her sorrow in sobs and tears, she tore herself from him, and, turning to the magistrate, exclaimed, with a bursting heart, "Is he not a pretty man? What a pity it is to hang him!"

Arrangements were then made to carry the prisoners to the place of execution, at the bridge of Linlithgow, which lay about a mile from the town. The armed force was drawn up at the town-cross, and those who carried muskets were ordered to load them with ball cartridge, and hold themselves ready, at the word of command, upon the least appearance of an attempt at rescue, to fire upon the aggressors. The whole scene presented such an alarming and war-like appearance, that the people of the town and surrounding country compared it to the bustle and military parade which took place, twenty-five years before, when the rebel army made its appearance in the neighbourhood. The judicious arrangements adopted by the officers of the crown had the desired effect; for not the slightest symptom of disturbance, not even a movement, was observed among the Gipsies, either on the night

before, or on the morning of the execution. The formidable armed bands, ready to overwhelm the presumptuous Gipsies, clearly showed them that they had not the shadow of a chance for carrying out their intended rescue. All was peace and silence throughout the immense crowd surrounding the gallows, patiently waiting the appearance of the criminals. In due time the condemned made their appearance, in a cart, accompanied by Charles and James Jamieson, two youths, sitting beside their father and uncle, busily eating rolls, and, to all appearance, totally indifferent to the fate of their relatives, and the awful circumstances surrounding them.

On ascending the platform, Jamieson's demeanour was suitable to the circumstances in which he found himself placed; but McDonald appeared quite unconcerned. He was observed frequently to turn a quid of tobacco in his mouth, and squirt the juice of it around him; it was even evident, from his manner, that he expected to be delivered from the gallows by his tribe; and more especially as he had been frequently heard to say that the hemp was not grown that would hang him. He then began to look frequently and wistfully around him for the expected aid, yet none made its appearance; and his heart began to sink within him. Indeed, the overwhelming force then surrounding him rendered a deliverance impossible. Every hope having failed him, and seeing his end at hand, McDonald resigned himself, with great firmness, to his fate, and exclaimed: "I have neither friends on my right hand nor on my left; I see I now must die." Jamieson, who appeared from the first never to indulge in vain expectations of being rescued, exclaimed to his fellow-sufferer: "Sandie, Sandie! it is all over with us, and I told you so long ago." McDonald then turned to the executioner, whose name was John Livingston, and dropping into his hand something, supposed to be money, undauntedly said to him: "Now, John, don't bungle your job." Both of the unhappy men were then launched into eternity. Ever afterwards, the inhabitants of Linlithgow pestered the hangman, by calling to him: "Now, John, don't bungle your job. What was it the Tinkler gave you, John?"[93]

[93] "On Friday last, about three o'clock, McDonald and Jamieson were hanged, at the end of Linlithgow bridge. The latter appeared very penitent, but the former very little affected, and, as the saying is, _died hard_."--_Ruddiman's Weekly Magazine_, vol. 9, page 416.

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