American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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Experiences of a French Detective Officer by William Russell. New York: Dick & Fitgerald, 1864. 289-317.

This collection was originally published in England in 1861 under the pseudonym of Thomas Waters and claimed to be an adaptation from a manuscript by Théodore Duhamel, yet another pseudonym.

The Prison Mazas
  Yes, Mazas and Cayenne are always there, and I have now to relate how it happened that I, a Detective Officer, whose political creed might have been summed up in one sentence—“zealous obedience to the power capable of enforcing obedience,” incurred and escaped the hazard of being found incarcerated in the prison, and next shipped off to the pestilental penal settlement.
To do so, I must go back to 1849, towards the close of which year I engaged a lodging in the Rue Neuve, Saint Eustache. In the same house dwelt Madame Colbert, her twin sons, Albert and François Colbert, and Louise, wife of Albert. François was a working goldsmith; Albert a watchmaker, skilled in a branch of the manufacture much better remunerated than other portions of watch-work. Their age was five or six and twenty, and as the families boarded together, and the young men were expert workmen, industrious and frugal, their united earnings supported them all in . . .


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NEAR the site of the ancient Bastile stands the modern Bastile Mazas, into the long before prepared cells of which the Paris Police on the morning of the 2nd of December, 1851, thrust a “fournée” of the most distinguished men in France— Statesmen, Savans, Generals—many of them surprised in, and stolen out of their beds.

The formality of “lettres de cachet,” was not observed upon that occasion. The Prince-President’s verbal order conveyed to us through De Maupas, the Prefect of Police, would have been quite sufficient warrant to shoot as well as seize the proscribed men. It will be the same again whenever the Senate or Corps Lêgislatif shall presume to abuse, in their master’s opinion, the week or so’s liberty of speech graciously accorded to them. “Do not be alarmed,” wrote an acquaintance of mine from Paris on the 16th of March last, to a Bonapartist pur sang. “Do not be alarmed by Plichon speeches. There are always Mazas and Cayenne.”





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