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A History of the Gipsies by Walter Simson

Converted a young colt into a gelding


to the other parts of his athletic

body, that neither irons nor hand-cuffs could be kept on his ankles or wrists; without injury to his person the gyves and manacles always slipped over his joints. He had a prepossessing countenance, an elegant figure, and much generosity of heart; and, notwithstanding all his tricks, was an extraordinary favourite with the public. Among the many tricks he played, it is related that he once, unobserved, in a grass park, converted a young colt into a gelding. He allowed the animal to remain for some time in the possession of the owner, and then stole it. He was immediately detected, and apprehended; but as the owner swore positively to the description of his horse, and Charlie's being a gelding, he got off clear. The man was amazed when he discovered the trick that had been played upon him, but when, where, and by whom done, he was entirely ignorant. Graham sold the animal to a third person, again stole it, and replaced it in the park of the original owner. He seemed to take great delight in stealing in this ingenious manner, trying how dexterously he could carry off the property of the astonished natives. He sometimes stole from wealthy individuals, and gave the booty to the indigent, although they were not Gipsies; and so accustomed were the people, in some places, to his bloodless robberies, that some only put their spurs to their horses, calling out, as they passed him: "Ah ha, Charlie lad, ye hae missed your mark to-night!" A widow, with a large family, at whose house he had
frequently been quartered, was in great distress for want of money to pay her rent. Graham lent her the amount required; but as the factor was returning home with it in his pocket, Charlie robbed him, and, without loss of time, returned to the woman, and gave her a full discharge for the sum she had just borrowed from him.

He was asked, immediately before his execution, if he had ever performed any good action during his life, to recommend him to the mercy of his offended God. That of giving the widow and fatherless the money of which he immediately afterwards robbed the factor, was the only instance he adduced in his favour; thinking that thereby he had performed a virtuous deed. In the morning of the day on which he was to suffer, he sent a messenger to one of the magistrates, requesting a razor to take off his beard; at the same time, in a calm manner, desiring the person to tell the magistrate that, "unless his beard was shaven, he could appear before neither God nor man." A short time before he was taken out to the gallows, he was observed reclining very pensively and thoughtfully on a seat. All at once he started up, exclaiming, in a mournful tone of voice, "Oh, can ony o' ye read, sirs; will some o' ye read a psalm to me?" at the same time regretting much that he had not been taught to read. The fifty-first psalm was accordingly read to him, by a gentleman present, which soothed his feelings exceedingly, and gave him much ease and comfort. He was greatly agitated after ascending the platform--his knees knocking against each other; but just before he was cast off, his inveterate Gipsy feelings returned upon him with redoubled violence. He kicked from his feet both of his shoes, in sight of the spectators--to set at nought, as was supposed, some prophecy that he would die with them on; and addressed the assembled crowd in the following words: "I am this day to be married to the gallows-tree, by suffering in the manner of many of my ancestors; and I am extremely glad to see such a number of respectable people at my wedding." A number of the band attended his execution, and, when his body was returned to them, they all kissed it with great affection, and held the usual lyke-wake over it. His sweetheart, or widow, I am uncertain which, of the name of Wilson, his own cousin, put his corpse into hot lime, then buried it, and sat on his grave, in a state of intoxication, till it was rendered unfit for the use of the medical gentlemen; it having been reported that he was to be taken out of his grave for the purpose of dissection. This man boasted greatly, while under sentence of death, of never having spilled human blood by committing murder.


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