American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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Leaves from the Diary of a Law-Clerk by the Author of “Recollections of a Detective Police Officer,” &c. London: J.C. Brown & Co., 1857.
The Diamond Necklace
  —suppose, for convenience-sake, we call him Mr. Prince, he was one in many respects,—on the evening, then, previous to the day, Mr. Prince, a barrister, whose clerk I had been for about three years, intended setting out, for the second time, on the Western Circuit, a somewhat unusual circumstance, or rather couple of circumstances, occurred. I must premise that Mr. Prince had at the previous assize made a great hit at Salisbury, by a successful objection to an indictment framed under the 30th Geo. II., which charged a respectably-connected young man with stealing a sum of money in bank notes. Mr. Prince contended that bank notes were not “moneys, wares, goods, or merchandize,” within the meaning of the statute, an opinion in which the judge, Mr. Baron Thompson, after much argumentation, coincided, and the prisoner was acquitted and discharged. This hugely astonished the agricultural mind of Wiltshire: a lawyer who could prove a bank note, then . . .


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The reader must not expect any artistic finish or colouring in such brief transcripts as I can furnish of bygone passages in my clerkly experience. Law­ writers and romance writers are very distinct classes of penmen, and I am consequently quite aware that these sketches have no other claim to attention than that they are genuine excerpts,—writ large,—from a journal in which the incidents of the day were faith­fully noted down at the time of their occurrence: their accuracy, therefore, does not depend upon memory, which certainly I do not find to be as virile and tenacious at seventy as it was at seventeen. No one will feel surprised that I should, in my vocation, have turned over several startling leaves in the darker chapters of our social history; and some of these, I have thought, may prove even more interesting to a numerous class of minds, when plainly and unpretendingly set forth, than if tricked out in the showy varnish and false jewels of romance and fanciful invention.

On the evening previous to the day, Mr. P—,





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