American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Strange Stories of a Detective; or, Curiosities of Crime. New York: Dick and Fitzgerald, 1863. 108-10.
The Wrong Burglar

by A Retired Member of the Detective Police
[William Russell]

  much so, that we shall never again convict men of a first offence! But he was not guilty, and why not I will tell,” continued H—, “as I paraphrase his own story, narrated in his cell the night before he went up.

“‘Stony Davis and I,’ said the culprit, ‘and by Stony Davis I means the hard-faced man as brought you the fee (we’ve been pals for thirty years), were agoing that night to pay a sort of outside visit to a German shop in Maiden Lane. When we looks around a place to see about bolts, and inside fixins, and who leaves last and cums fust, and where the safe-keys are left, and all sich-like things, that’s wot we calls an outside visit. It’s never policy to go into a warehouse and take things fust off—that ought to be left to another time—and the blowing, washy nights, them’s the times for a full crack! Well, Stony Davis and me was there with our jimmy and lantern when the alarm from P— Street was given, and Stony was fool enough to run, instead of dodging into an area.. . .


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    “PERHAPS I should say the ‘wronged’ burglar,” said my friend Lawyer H— (from whom I received the following narrative as we were steaming down to town last week behind the locomotive “Superior”); “wronged, because he was legally convicted of one burglary, when he was only morally guilty of another.”

Returning from the Court of Appeals at Albany, he had been giving reminiscences of his early professional career. What preceded the story is unnecessary to recount.

“I had unsuccessfully defended him before Recorder R—, nearly a quarter century since, for breaking into a P— Street warehouse”—was the point at which I pursue my friend’s narrative. “The testimony fixed him in the vicinity of the crime, and he could not explain his presence there, nor could he give testimony of that good character which the judges in C—’s case have just held of suchweight—so




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