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American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
The New York Ledger, May 9, 1857.
 
A Scene from a Jury-Room
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by Sylvanus Cobb, Jr.
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  The trial commenced and we twelve men took our seats in the jury box. I had a very respectable set with me—only there was one man whom I didn’t like to see there. This man was Moulton Warren. He was a dark-faced, sinister-looking fellow—at least to me. I knew that young Ambold had one fault. He had recently been addicted to drink, and had been known to visit disreputable houses. It was one of those houses that had been burned, for setting fire to which he had been apprehended.

Now I had often tried to persuade Charles Ambold from the course he was pursuing. He had repeatedly promised me that he would reform, and as repeatedly had he broken away. I had often talked to him of his poor mother, until he had wept like a child; but the effect was not lasting. There was a power of temptation more effective than any influence I could wield. He would fall away into this evil companionship, and for a while his manhood was gone. One or two abandoned women had gained great power over him and upon them he wasted much of his substance. . . .

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    I once had the extreme felicity of leaving my business to serve on “the Jury.” I plead in all manner of ways for release, but to no effect. I could not swear that I was deaf, nor blind, nor yet non compos: but I did tell them that I had already formed an opinion. They asked me if my opinion would prevent me from receiving the testimony in good faith, and rendering a verdict according to it. I replied that of course I should weigh the evidence carefully, and be governed by it. I was then informed that I “would do.”

The case to be tried was one of arson—then a capital offence—and the prisoner at the bar was a young man, named Charles Ambold, whom I had known from boyhood, and who was naturally one of the finest youths of the town where he resided. He had a widowed mother, who depended upon him for support; and his circle of friends was large and choice. I was morally certain that he did not commit the crime, and hence, I am sure, those who were friendly to him got me upon the panel, and had me retained.

   

 

 


 

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