Recollections of a Police Officer
The Partner

I had virtually, though not formally, left the force, when a young man of gentlemanly but somewhat dissipated aspect, and looking very pale and agitated, called upon me with a note from one of the commissioners, enjoining me to assist the bearer, Mr. Edmund Webster, to the utmost of my ability, if, upon examination, I saw reason to place reliance upon his statement relative to the painful and extraordinary circumstances in which he was involved.

“Mr. Edmund Webster,” I exclaimed, after glancing at the note.  “You are the person, then, accused of robbing Mr. Hutton, the corn-merchant (the reader will, of course, understand that I make use of fictitious names) and whom that gentleman refuses to prosecute?”

“The same, Mr. Waters.  But although the disgraceful charge, so far as regards legal pursuit, appears to be withdrawn, or rather is not pressed, I and my family shall not be the less shamed and ruined thereby, unless my perfect innocence be made manifest before the world.  It is with that view we have been advised to seek your assistance; and my father desires me to say that he will hesitate at no expense necessary for the thorough prosecution of the inquiry.”

“Very well, Mr. Webster.  The intimation of the commissioner is, however, of itself all-potent with me, although I hoped to be concerned in no more such investigations.  Have the goodness, therefore, to sit down, and favor me minutely and distinctly with your version of the affair, omitting, if you please, no circumstance, however apparently trivial, in connection with it.  I may tell you,” I added, opening the notebook from which I am now transcribing, and placing it before me in readiness to begin—“I may tell you, by way of some slight encouragement, that the defense you volunteered at the police office was, in my opinion, too improbable to be an invention; and I, as you know, have had large experience in such matters.  That also, I suspect, is Mr. Hutton’s opinion; and hence not only his refusal to prosecute, but the expense and trouble he has been at, to my knowledge, in preventing either his own or your name from appearing in the papers.  Now, sir, if you please.”

“I shall relate every circumstance, Mr. Waters, as clearly and truthfully as possible, for my own sake, in order that you may not be working in the dark; and first I must beg your attention to one or two family matters, essential to a thorough appreciation of the position in which I am placed.”

“Go on, sir; it is my duty to hear all you have to say.”

“My father,” proceeded Mr. Edmund Webster, “who, as you are aware, resided in Regent’s park, retired about five years ago from the business in Mark Lane, which has since been carried on by the former junior partner, Mr. Hutton.  Till within the last six months, I believed myself destined for the army, the purchase money of a cornetcy having been lodged at the horse guards a few days after I came of age.  Suddenly, however, my father changed his mind, insisted that I should become a partner of Hatton’s in the corn trade, and forthwith withdrew the money lodged for the commission.  I am not yet cognizant of all his motives for this seeming caprice; but those he alleged were, first my spendthrift, idle habits—an imputation for which, I confess, there was too much foundation; though as to whether the discipline of the counting house would, as he believed, effect a beneficial change, there might be two opinions.  Another, and I have no doubt much more powerfully inducing motive with him was, that I had formed an attachment for Miss Ellen Bramston, the second daughter of Captain Bramston, of the East India company’s service, residing at Hampstead upon his half pay.  My father strongly disapproved of the proposed alliance; like most of the successful city men I have known or heard of, he more heartily despises poverty with a laced coat on its back than in rags; and he knew no more effectual plan could be hit upon for frustrating my wishes, than by transforming my expected coronetcy into a partnership in the corn trade, my imaginary sword into an actual goose quill; Captain Bramston, who is distantly related to an earl, being even prouder than he is poor, and a man that would rather see his daughter in her coffin than married to a trader.  It was condescension enough, he angrily remarked, that he had permitted Ellen Bramston to encourage the addresses of the son of a city parvenu, but it was utterly preposterous to suppose she could wed an actual corn-chandler.


“That was Captain Bramston’s pleasant phrase, when I informed him of my father’s sudden change of purpose.—The proposed partnership was as distasteful to myself as to Captain Bramston; but my father proved inexorable—fiercely so, I may say—to my entreaties, and those of my sisters; and I was placed in the dilemma, either of immediate banishment from home, and probable forfeiture of my inheritance, or the loss of Ellen Bramston, to whom, with all my follies, I was and am devotedly attached.  After much anxious cogitation I hit upon a scheme, requiring for a time the exercise of a considerable amount of deceit and dissimulation, which would, I flattered myself, ultimately reconcile interest with inclination; give me Ellen, and not lose my father.”

“To which deceit and dissimulation you are doubtless indebted for your present unfortunate position.”

“You have rightly anticipated.  But to proceed.  Mr. Hutton himself, I must tell you, was strongly averse to receiving me as a partner, though for some reason or other he durst not openly oppose the project; his son, John Hutton, also bitterly objected to it”—

“His son, John Hutton!  I know the character of Hutton senior pretty well; pray, what is the character of his son?”

“Well, like myself, he is rather fast, perhaps, but not the less a good sort of a young fellow enough.  He sailed the week before last for Riga on business.”

“Before you were apprehended?”

“On the morning of the same day.  Let me see, where was I?  Oh—Mr. Hutton’s aversion to the partnership, the knowledge of which suggested my plan of operation.  I induced him to represent to my father that I should pass at least two or three months in the countinghouse, before the matter was irreversibly concluded, for his, Mr. Hutton’s sake, in order that it might be ascertained if there was any possibility of training me into habits of method and application; and I hypocritically enforced his argument—you see I am perfectly candid—by promising ultimate dutiful submission to my father’s wishes, provided the final decision were thus respited.  The main object I tho’t to attain by this apparent compliance was the effectually loosening, before many weeks had passed, of the old gentleman’s purse-strings, which had of late been overtightly drawn.  I had several pressing debts of honor, as they are called—debts of dishonor would, according to my experience, be the apter phrase—which it was absolutely necessary to discharge, and the success, moreover, of my matrimonial project entirely depended upon my ability to secure a very considerable sum of money.”

“Your matrimonial project?”

“Yes; it was at last arranged, not without much reluctance on the part of Ellen, but I have good reason for believing with the covert approbation of Captain Bramston, that we should effect a stolen marriage, immediately set off for the continent, and remain there till the parental storm, which on my father’s part would I knew be tremendous, had blown over.  I did not feel much disquieted as to the final result.  I was an only son; my sisters would be indefatigable intercessors; a general reconciliation, such as usually accompanies the ringing down of the green curtain at the wind up of a stage comedy, would after no great interval of time, take place.  Money, however, was indispensable—money for the wedding expenses, the flight to France, and living there a considerable time perhaps; and no likelier mode of obtaining it occurred to me that that of cajoling my father into good humor, by affecting to acquiesce in his wishes.  And here I may remark, in passing, that had I been capable of the infamous deed I am accused of, abundant opportunities of plundering Mr. Hutton presented themselves from the first hour I entered his countinghouse.  Over and over again has he left me alone in his private room, with the keys in the lock of his iron safe, where large sums of money were frequently deposited, not in banknotes only, but untraceable gold.”

“That looks like a singular want of caution in so precise and wary a man as Mr. Hutton,” I remarked, half under my breath.

“Nothing of the sort,” rejoined Mr. Edmund Webster with some heat, and his pallid face brightly flushing.  “It only shows that with all my faults and follies, it was impossible for anyone that knew me to imagine I could be capable of perpetrating a felony.”

“I beg your pardon, Mr. Webster; I meant nothing offensive to you; the remark was merely the partly involuntary expression of a thought which suddenly glanced across my mind.”

“I have little more preliminary detail to relate,” he went on to say.  “Contrary to our hope and expectation, my father became not a whit more liberal with his purse than before—the reverse rather; and I soon found that he intended to keep the screw on till the accomplishment of the hated partnership placed an insuperable bar between me and Ellen Bramston.  I used to converse frequently upon these matters with Mr. Hutton, as unreservedly as I do now with you; and I must say that, although extremely anxious to avoid any appearance of opposition to my father, he always expressed the warmest sympathy with my aims and wishes; so much so, in fact, that I at last ventured to ask him for the loan of about five hundred pounds, that being the least sum which would enable me to pay off the most pressing of the claims by which I was harassed, and carry out my wedding project.  That favor, however, he flatly refused, under the plea that his having done so would sooner or later come to my father’s knowledge.”

“And did Mr. Hutton, after that refusal, continue to afford you opportunities of helping yourself, had you been so minded?”

“Yes, unquestionably he did; but what of that?”  sharply replied the young man, his pale face suffused with an angry flush.

‘Nothing, sir; nothing.  Go on:  I am all attention.”

“Well, I made application to several moneylenders with the like ill success, till last Monday fortnight, when I was accosted at Mr. Hutton’s place of business in the corn market, where I happened to be for a few minutes alone, by a respectable-looking, middle-aged man, who asked me if I was the Mr. Edmund Webster who had left a note at Mr. Curtis’, of Bishopsgate Street, on the previous Saturday, requesting the loan of five hundred pounds, upon my own acceptance at six months’ date.  I eagerly replied in the affirmative; upon which Mr. Brown, as the man called himself, asked if I had the promissory note for five hundred and fifty pounds, as I had proposed, ready drawn; and if so, he would give me the cash at once.  I answered in the flurry of joyous excitement, that I had not the note drawn, nor a stamp with me, but if he would wait a few minutes, till Mr. Hutton or a clerk came in, I would get one and write the acceptance immediately.  He hesitated for a moment, and then said:  ‘I am in a hurry this morning, but I will wait for you in the coffee room of the Bay-tree tavern:  have the kindness to be as quick as you can, and draw the note in favor of Mr. Brown.’  He had not been gone above three or four minutes, when a clerk came in.  I instantly hurried to a stationer’s, wrote the note in his shop, and speeded on with it to the Bay-tree tavern.  The coffee room was full, except the box where sat Mr. Brown, who, after glancing at the acceptance, and putting it quickly up, placed a roll of notes in my hand.  ‘Do not display your money,’ he said, ‘before all these people.  You can count the notes under the table.’  I did so:  they were quite correct—ten fifties; and I forthwith ordered a bottle of wine.  Mr. Brown, however, alleging business as an excuse, did not wait till it was brought—bade me good day, and disappeared, taking in his hurry, my hat instead of his own.

“I was, you will readily believe, exceedingly jubilant at this lucky turn of affairs; and, strange as it must appear to you, and does now to myself, it did not strike me at the time as at all extraordinary or unbusinesslike, that I should have five hundred pounds suddenly placed in my hands by a man to whom I was personally unknown, and who could not, therefore, be certain I was the Edmund Webster he professed to be in search of.  What with the effect of the wine I drank, and natural exultation, I was, I well remember, in a state of great excitement when I left the tavern, and hardly seemed to feel my feet as I hurried away to Mark Lane, to inform Mr. Hutton of my good luck, and bid his countinghouse and the corn trade a final farewell.  He was not at home, and I went in and seated myself in his private room to await his return.  I have no doubt that, as the clerk has since deposed, I did look flustered, agitated; and it is quite true also, that after vainly waiting for upwards of an hour, I suddenly left the place, and, as it happened, unnoticed by anybody.— Immediately upon leaving Mark Lane, I hastened to Hampstead, saw Miss Bramston; and, as everything with the exception of the money had been for some time in readiness, it was soon decided that we should take the wing at dawn on the following morning, for Scotland, and thence pass over to France.  I next betook myself to Regent’s Park, where I dined, and confided everything to my sisters, except as to how I had obtained the necessary funds.  At about eight in the evening, I took a cab as far as the Haymarket, for the purpose of hiring a post-chaise-and-four, and of paying a few debts of honor in that neighborhood.  I was personally unknown to the postmaster; it was therefore necessary to prepay the chaise as far as St. Albans, and I presented him with one of the fifty pound notes for that purpose.  He did not appear surprised at the largeness of the bill, but requested me to place my name and address on the back of the note before he changed it.  In my absurd anxiety to prevent the possibility of our flight being traced, I indorsed the note as ‘Charles Hart, Great Wimpole Street,’ and the man left the yard.

“He was gone a considerable time, and I was getting exceedingly impatient, when, to my surprise and consternation, he re-entered the yard accompanied by a police officer.  ‘You are the gentleman from whom Mr. Evans received this fifty-pound note a few minutes ago—are you not?’  ‘Yes, to be sure,’ I answered, stammering and coloring, why I scarcely knew.  ‘Then step this way if you please,’ said the man.  ‘That note, with nine others of the same value, is advertised in the evening papers, as having been stolen from a gentleman’s counting house in Mark Lane.’  I thought I should have fainted; and when a paragraph in the Globe was pointed out to me, offering a reward, on the part of Mr. Hutton, for the apprehension of the person or persons who had that day stolen ten fifty-pound Bank-of-England notes—the dates and numbers of which were given—from his office, I was so completely stunned, that but for the police officer, I should have dropped upon the floor.  ‘This perhaps may be cleared up,’ said the officer, ‘so far as you, Mr. Hart are concerned; and I will at once go with you to your address in Great Wimpole Street.’  It was of course necessary to acknowledge that my name was not Hart, and that I had given a false address.  This was enough.  I was at once secured and taken off to the station house, searched, and the other nine notes being found upon me, no doubt was entertained of my guilt.  I obstinately declined giving my real name—very foolishly so, as I now perceive, since Mr. Hutton’s clerk, the moment he saw me the next day at the police court, disclosed it as a matter of course.  The result you know.  Mr. Hutton, when he heard who it was that had been taken into custody, kept resolutely out of the way; and, after several remands, I was set at liberty, the magistrate remarking that he knew of no case which showed in a more striking light the want of a public prosecutor in the country.  My account of the manner in which I became possessed of the notes was, as you know, scouted, and quite naturally; Mr. Curtis, of Bishopsgate Street, having denied all knowledge of Mr. Brown, or that he had commissioned anyone to present me with five hundred pounds in exchange for my acceptance.  Thus stigmatized and disgraced, I returned home to find my father struck down, in what was at first thought would prove mortal illness, by the blow—Captain Bramston’s door shut against me—and the settled marriage of my eldest sister, Jane, with an amiable young man, peremptorily broken off by his relatives, on account of the assumed criminality of her brother.”

“This is indeed a sad, mysterious business, Mr. Webster,” I remarked, when the young man ceased speaking; “but pray tell me, did either Mr. Hutton or his son know of your application to Mr. Curtis?”

“I cannot say as either of them did, though it is more than probable that I mentioned it to both of them.”

“Well, Mr. Webster, I have confidence in your veracity; but it is essential that I should see your father before engaging in this business.”

“He is anxious you should do so, and as early as possible.”

It was then arranged that I should call on Webster senior at three o’clock the same afternoon, and announce myself to the servants as Mr. Thompson.  I was punctual to the time appointed, and was forthwith ushered by one of the daughters into her father’s presence.  He was not yet sufficiently recovered to leave his bed; and I had hardly exchanged half a dozen sentences with him, when the same young lady by whom I had been introduced, hastily returned to say Mr. Hutton was below, and requested an immediate interview.  Mr. Webster bade his daughter tell Mr. Hutton he was engaged, and could not be interrupted; and she was turning away to do so, when I said hastily:— “Excuse me, Mr. Webster, but I should exceedingly like to hear, with my own ears, what Mr. Hutton has to say, unobserved by him.”

“You may do so with all my heart,” he replied; “but how shall we manage to conceal you?”

“Easily enough under the bed;” and sitting the action to the word, I was in a moment out of sight.  Miss Webster was then told to ask Mr. Hutton to walk up, and in a few minutes that worthy gentleman entered the room.  After a few hypocritical condolences upon the invalid’s state of health, Mr. Hutton came to the point at once, and with a vengeance.

“I am come, Mr. Webster,” he began, in a determined tone, “to say that I will endure this shilly-shallying no longer.  Either you give up the bonds you hold of mine, for borrowed moneys”—

“Eleven thousand pounds and upwards!” groaned the sick man.

“About that sum, I am aware, including interest; in discharge of which load of debt I was, you know, to have given a third share of my business to your admirable son.  Well, agree at once to cancel those bonds, or I forthwith will prosecute your son, who will certainly be convicted, and transported for life.”

“I tell you again,” retorted the excited invalid, “that I will not purchase mere forbearance to prosecute at the cost of a single shilling.  The accusation would always be hanging over his head, and we should remain forever disgraced, as we are now, in the eyes of the world.”

“I have turned that over in my mind” replied Hutton, “and I think I can meet your wishes.  Undertake to cancel the debt I owe you, and I will wait publicly to-morrow upon the magistrate with a letter in my hand purporting to be from my son, and stating that it was he who took the notes from my desk, and employed a man by the name of Brown to exchange them for your son’s acceptance, he being anxious that Mr. Edmund Webster should not become his father’s partner; a purpose that would necessarily be frustrated if he, Edmund Webster, was enabled to marry and leave this country.”

There was no answer to this audacious proposal for a minute or two, and then Mr. Webster said slowly: “That my son is innocent, I am thoroughly convinced”—

“Innocent!” exclaimed Mr. Hutton with savage derision.  “Have you taken leave of your senses?”

“Still,” continued the invalid, unmindful of the interruption, “it might be impossible to prove him so; and your proposition has a certain plausibility about it.  I must, however, have time to consider it.”

“Certainly; let us say till this day week.  You cannot choose but comply; for if you do not, as certainly as I stand here a living man, your son shall, immediately after the expiration of that time, be on the highroad to the hulks.”  Having said this, Mr. Hutton went away, and I emerged from my very undignified lurking place.

“I begin to see a little clearer through this black affair,” I said in reply to the old gentleman’s questioning look, “and I trust we may yet be able to turn the tables upon the very confident gentleman who has just left us.  Now, if you please,” I added, addressing Miss Webster, who had again returned, “I shall be glad of a few moments’ conversation with your brother.”  She led the way downstairs, and I found Mr. Edmund Webster in the dining room.  “Have the kindness,” I said, “to let me see the hat Mr. Brown left behind at the tavern in exchange for yours.”  The young man seemed surprised at the apparent oddness of the request, but immediately complied with it.  “And pray, what maker or seller’s name was pasted inside the crown of your hat, Mr. Webster?”

“Lewis, of Bond Street,” he replied:  “I always purchase my hats there.”

“Very good.  And now as to Mr. Brown’s personal appearance.  What is he at all like!”

“A stoutish, middle-aged man, with very light hair, prominent nose, and a pale face, considerably pock-marked.”

“That will do for the present, Mr. Webster; and let me beg, that till you see me again, not a soul receives a hint that we are moving in this business.”

I then left the house.  The hat had furnished an important piece of information, the printed label inside being, ‘Perkins, Guildford, Surrey;’ and at the Rose and Crown Inn, Guildford, Surrey, I alighted the very next day at about two o’clock, in the strong hope of meeting in its steep streets or adjacent lanes with a stoutish gentleman, distinguished by very light hair, a long nose, and a white pock-marked face.  The chance was, at all events, worth a trial; and I very diligently set to work to realize it, by walking about from dawn till dark, peering at every head I passed, and spending the evenings in the most frequented parlors of the town.  Many a bootless chase I was led by a distant glimpse of light or red hair; and one fellow with a sandy poll, and a pair of the longest legs I ever saw, kept me almost at a run for two mortal hours one sultry hot morning, on the road to Cherisey, before I headed him, and confronted a pair of fat cheeks, as round and red as an apple, between which lay, scarcely visible, a short snub-nose. Patience and perseverance at length, however, met with their reward.  I recognized my man as he was cheapening a joint of meat in the marketplace.  He answered precisely to the description given me, and wore, moreover, a fashionable hat, strongly suggestive of Bond Street.  After a while he parted from his wife, and made toward a public house, into the parlor of which I entered close after him.  I had now leisure to observe him more closely.  He appeared to be a respectable sort of man, but a careworn expression flitted at times over his face, which to me, an adept at such signs, indicated with sufficient plainness much anxiety of mind, arising, probably, from pecuniary embarrassment, not, I judged, from a burdened conscience.  I presently obtained further and decisive proof, though that was scarcely needed, that Mr. Skinner, as the waiter called him, was my Mr. Brown: in rising to leave the room, I took his hat, which he had hung up, in apparent mistake for my own, and in the half minute that elapsed before I replaced it, saw, plainly enough, “Lewis, Bond Street, London,” on the inside label. The only question now was, how to best avail myself of the lucky turning up of Mr. Brown: and whilst I was meditating several modes of action, the sight of a board upon which was painted, “This ground to be let in building leases:  Apply to Mr. Skinner, builder,” at once decided me.  I called upon Mr. Skinner, who lived about half a mile out of Guildford, the next morning, inquired as to the condition of said leases, walked with him over the ground in question, calculated together how much a handsome country house would cost, and finally adjourned to the Rose and Crown, to discuss the matter further over a bottle of wine.  Skinner was as free a soul, I found, as ever liquor ever betrayed into indiscretion; and I soon heard that he had lately been to London, and had a rich brother-in-law there, of the name of Hutton, with other less interesting particulars.  This charming confidence, he seemed to think, required a return in kind, and after he had essayed half a dozen indirect questions, I came frankly out with:  “There’s no occasion to beat about the bush, Mr. Skinner: you wish to know who I am, and especially if I am able to pay for the fine house we have been talking of.  Well, then, I am a money dealer; I lend cash, sometimes, on security.”

“A pawnbroker?” queried Mr. Skinner doubtfully.

“Not exactly that: I oftener take persons in pledge, than goods.  What I mean by money dealer is a man who discounts the signatures of fast men with good expectations, who don’t mind paying handsomely in the end for present accommodation.”

“I understand: a bill discounter?”

“Precisely.  But come, drink, and pass the decanter.”

A gleam that shot out of the man’s gray eyes strengthened a hope I had hardly dared entertain, that I was on the eve of a great success; but the trout, it was clear, required to be cautiously played.  Mr. Skinner presently fell into a brown study which I did not interrupt, contenting myself with refilling his glass as fast as he mechanically emptied it.  “A bill discounter,” said he at last, putting down his pipe, and turning towards me with a settled purpose in his look.  “Is amount and length of time to run of any consequence?”

“None whatever, if the parties are safe.”

“Cash down on the nail?”

“Cash down on the nail, minus of course the interest.”

“Of course.  Well, then, Mr. Thompson, I have a promissory note signed by a Mr. Edmund Webster of London, for five hundred and fifty pounds, at six months’ date, which I should like to discount.”

“Webster of the Minories?”

“No; his father is a retired corn merchant residing in the Regent’s Park.  The bill’s as safe as a bank of England note.”

“I know the party.  But why doesn’t the rich brother-in-law you spoke of cash it for you?”

“Well,” replied Skinner, “no doubt he would; but the fact is, there is a dispute between us about this very note.  I owe him a goodish bit of money; and if he got it into his hands, he’d of course be for deducting the amount; and I’ve been obliged to put him off by pretending it was accidentally burned soon after I obtained it.”

“A queer story, my friend; but if the signature’s genuine, I don’t mind that, and you shall have the cash at once.”

“Here it is, then,” said Skinner, unclasping a stout leather pocketbook, “I don’t mind throwing back the odd fifty pounds.”

I eagerly grasped the precious document, glanced at it, saw it was all right, placed it in my pocket, and then suddenly changing my tone, and rising from the table, said:  “Now then, Skinner, alias Brown, I have to inform you that I am a detective police officer, and that you are my prisoner.”

“Police!  Prisoner!” shouted the astounded man as he leaped to his feet: “What are you talking of?”

“I will tell you.  Your brother-in-law employed you to discount the note now in my possession.  You did so, pretending to be a Mr. Brown, the agent of a Mr. Curtis; but the villain’s sequel of the transaction—the charging young Mr. Webster with having stolen the very fifty-pound notes you gave him in the coffee room of the Bay-tree tavern—I do not believe, thanks to Master Hutton’s success in suppressing all names in the police reports, you can be aware of.”

The bewildered man shook as with ague in every limb, and when I ceased speaking, protested earnestly that he had no evil design in complying with his brother-in-law’s wishes.

“I am willing to think so,” I replied; “but, at all events, you must go with me to London—quietly were best.”

To this he at last, though very reluctantly, consented; and half an hour afterwards we were in the train, and on our road to London.

The next morning, Mr. Webster’s solicitors applied to Mr. Hutton for the immediate liquidation of the bonds held by their client.  This, as we had calculated, rendered him furious; and Edmund Webster was again arrested on the former charge, and taken to the Marlborough Street police station, where his father, Captain Bramston, and other friends, impatiently awaited his appearance.  Mr. Hutton this time appeared as prosecutor, and deposed to the safe custody of the notes on the morning of the robbery.

“And you swear,” said Mr. Webster’s solicitor, “that you did not with your own hands give the pretendedly stolen notes to Brown, and request him to take them in Mr. Curtis’s name to young Mr. Webster?”

Hutton, greatly startled glanced keenly in the questioner’s face, and did not immediately answer.  “No, I did not,” he at last replied in a low, shaking voice.

“Let me refresh your memory.  Did you not say to Brown, or rather Skinner, your brother-in-law”—

A slight scream escaped the quivering lips of the detected conspirator, and a blaze of frenzied anguish and alarm swept over his countenance, leaving it as white as marble.  No further answer could be obtained from him; and as soon as possible he left the office, followed by the groans and hisses of the excited auditory.

Skinner was then brought forward: he made a full and ample confession, and Edmund Webster was at once discharged, amidst the warm felicitations of the magistrate and the uproarious congratulations of his friends.  It was intended to indict Mr. Hutton for perjury; but the unhappy man chose to appear before a higher tribunal than that of the Old Bailey.  He was found dead in his bedroom early the next morning.  His affairs were found to be in a state of insolvency, though the deficit was not large; 15s in the pound having been, I understood, ultimately paid to the creditors.  Miss Ellen Bramston, I must not in conclusion omit to state, became Mrs. Edmund Webster shortly after the triumphant vindication of her lover’s character; and I believe Miss Webster was made a wife on the same day.


Janesville [WI] Gazette, October 29, 1853
[Concord] New Hampshire Statesman, February 11, 1854

This story was originally published as “Recollections of a Police Officer: The Partner” in Chambers's Edinburgh Journal on September 3, 1853.