American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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  Published in
The Living Age, July 12, 1851
From Dickens’ Household Words

The Metropolitan Protectives
cast for the assassination of Louis Napoleon, in the inner parlors of various cigar shops. Amer­ica, as we learn from that mighty lever of the civilized world, the New York Weekly Herald—at whose nod, it is well known, kings tremble on their thrones, and the earth shakes—is of opin­ion that the time bids fair for a descent of Red Republicans on Manchester. The English policemen have been tampered with, and are suborned. The great Mr. Justice Maule can’t find one any­where. In short, the peace of the entire continent of Europe may be considered as already gone. When the various conspiracies now on foot are ripe, the armies of the disaffected of all nations which are to land at the various British ports under pretence of “assisting” at the Great Glass show are to be privately and confidentially drilled in secret Champs de Mars, and armed with weapons, stealthily abstracted from the Tower of London; while the metropolitan police and the guards, both horse and foot, will fraternize, and (to a man) pre­tend to be fast asleep.

Neither have our prudent prophets omitted . . .


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Nervous old ladies, dyspeptic half-pay officers, suspicious quidnuncs, plot-dreading diplomatists, and grudging ratepayers, all having the fear of the forthcoming industrial invasion before their eyes, are becoming very anxious respecting the adequate efficiency of the London Police. Horrible rumors are finding their way into most of the clubs; reports are permeating into the tea parties of suburban dow­agers which darkly shadow forth dire mischief and confusion, the most insignificant result whereof is to be (of course) the overthrow of the British Con­stitution. Conspiracies of a comprehensive charac­ter are being hatched in certain back parlors, in certain back streets behind Mr. Cantelo’s chicken establishment in Leicester Square. A complicated web of machination is being spun—we have it on the authority of a noble peer—against the integrity of the Austrian empire, at a small coffee shop in Soho. Prussia is being menaced by twenty-four determined Poles and Honveds in the attics of a cheap restaurateur in the Haymarket. Lots are being





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