American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Harper’s Weekly
,  April 3, 1858
The Culprit Judge:
A Tale of the Bench and Bar

  I never liked him. With all his affability and apparent deference of manner, there was in his composition an understrata of cunning that I suspected and became wary of. When I was chosen peoples' solicitor he sought my confidence, but I repelled it, and, except in court, we were little together. Many a time on the civil side has he given me a favorable charge on facts, or acquiesced in my law when I felt that I was wrong. Nor could I
fathom why he thus sought to get the winning side of me.

I suspected him of knavery. When prisoners were convicted, and he had the discretion of punishment, his sentences were oddly inconsistent. He fined when he should have imprisoned, and confined when a nominal punishment would have answered the justice of the case. But I never could get any clew, and with the populace he was regarded as a man of rare integrity and firmness of mind.

One night, at the inn in the little village of Washington, where a week's court was to . . .


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In one of the Western States I was once a prosecuting attorney. The settler's axe was then familiar music, and the prairies away from the woodland had not yet heard the scream of the steam whistle. All branches of society, of trade, business, and professions were in a transition state. Of course the judges were not men of vast learning or of rare character; and, lest I appear vain, I may add, that the lawyers were by no means Chief-Justice Taneys!

The Judge who traveled circuit with us in the counties round about the city of—had been in early life a horse-jockey, and had picked up a large amount of tact, knowledge of men, and of human nature, and of social motives that was of much use to him in his legal walk. At the West he had been a member of the first Constitutional Covention in our State, and, being a good talker and of quick natural intellect, had shone in the debates. Of course it was natural that, as he made the law, he should claim to be able to expound it. And at the first election after the State was admitted he was chosen a Judge.





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