American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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  Published in
Milwaukee Sentinel and Gazette, November 1 & 2, 1849
The Daily Sanduskian, November 7, 8, 9, 1849
The Sheboygan Mercury, November 10, 1849
The Oskosh True Democrat, November 23, 1849

This story was originally published as “Recollections of a Police-Officer: Guilty or Not Guilty?” in Chambers' Edinburgh Journal on August 25, 1849.

It was later published in the collection Recollections of a Police-Officer by William Russell, under the pseudonym Thomas Waters (London: J.& C. Brown & Co., 1856).

Prior to the British publication of this volume, a pirated collection of the stories—also titled Recollections of a Police-Officer—was published in America (New York: Cornish and Lamport, 1852).

    "Guilty or Not Guilty?" continued from p. 9

position in life of the prisoner, and the strange and mysterious circumstances of the affair altogether, having excited an extraordinary and extremely painful interest among all classes in the town and neighborhood. The demeanor of the accused gentleman was anxious certainly, but withal calm and collected; and there was, I thought, a light of fortitude and conscious probity in his clear bold eyes, which guilt never yet successfully simulated.

After hearing of some minor evidence, the fishmonger’s boy was called, and asked if he could point out the person he had seen at Five Oaks on the day preceding the burglary? The lad looked fixedly at the prisoner for something more than a minute without speaking, and the said:

that this was, after all, only swearing to a cap, or at best to an ensemble of a dress, and ought not to be received. The chairman, however, decided that it must be taken quantum valeat, and in corroboration of other evidence. It was next deposed by several persons that the deceased, Sarah King, had told them that her

    master’s nephew had positively arrived at Five Oaks. An objection to the reception of this evidence, as partaking of the nature of “hearsay,” was also made, and similarly overruled. Mr. Bristowe begged to observe “that Sarah King was not one of his uncle’s old servants, and was entirely unknown to him; it was quite possible, therefore, that he was personally unknown to her.” The bench observed that all these observations might be fully urged before a jury, but in the present stage of the proceedings were uselessly addressed to them, whose sole duty was to ascertain if a sufficiently strong case of suspicion had been made out against the prisoner to justify his committal for trial. A constable next proved finding a portion of a letter which he produced, in one of the offices of Five Oaks; and then Mr. Bagshawe was directed to be called in. The prisoner, upon this order given, exhibited great emotion, and earnestly entreated that his uncle and himself might be spared the necessity of meeting each other for the first time, after a separation of several years, under such circumstances.

Continued on p. 11


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