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American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
The Lamplighter’s Story; Hunted Down; the Detective Police & Other Nouvellettes. Philadelphia: TB Peterson & Brothers,1861. 57-76.

This story was originally published as 2 pieces. The first half of this story, about Tally-ho Thompson, was published in England under the heading “The Detective Police Party” in Household Words, July 27, 1850 (vol. 1, no. 18, p. 409-414), where it included 2 introductory paragraphs.  The second half of this story, the Butcher’s story, was subsequently published, also under the heading “The Detective Police Party” in Household Words, August 10, 1850 (vol. 1, no. 20, p. 457-460).

 
The Detective Police;
and Other Nouvellettes


by Charles Dickens
  in such a workman-like manner, and is always so calmly and steadily engaged in the service of the public, that the public really do not know enough of it, to know a tithe of its usefulness. Impressed with this conviction, and interested in the men themselves, we represented to the authorities at Scotland Yard, that we should be glad, if there were no official objection, to have some talk with the Detectives. A most obliging and ready permission being given, a certain evening was appointed with a certain Inspector for a social conference between ourselves and the Detectives, at The Household Words Office in Wellington Street, Strand, London. In consequence of which appointment the party “came off,” which we are about to describe. And we beg to repeat that, avoiding such topics as it might for obvious reasons be injurious to the public, or disagreeable to respectable individuals, to touch upon in print, our description is as exact as we can make it.

The reader will have the goodness to imagine the Sanctum Sanctorum of Household . . .

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WE are not by any means devout believers in the Old Bow Street Police. To say the truth, we think there was a vast amount of humbug about those worthies. Apart from many of them being men of very indifferent character, and far too much in the habit of consorting with thieves and the like, they never lost a public occasion of jobbing and trading in mystery and making the most of themselves. Continually puffed besides by incompetent magistrates anxious to conceal their own deficiencies, and hand-in-glove with the penny-a-liners of that time, they became a sort of superstition. Although as a Preventive Police they were utterly ineffective, and as a Detective Police were very loose and uncertain in their operations, they remain with some people a superstition to the present day.

On the other hand, the Detective Force organized since the establishment of the existing Police, is so well chosen and trained, proceeds so systematically and quietly, does its business

   

 

 


 

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