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Title: Mysteries of Police and Crime
Author: Griffiths, Arthur
Language: English
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                          MYSTERIES OF POLICE
                               AND CRIME


        (_From a Contemporary Print by Rowlandson and Pugin._)]

                           POLICE AND CRIME

                        MAJOR ARTHUR GRIFFITHS

                            NEWGATE," ETC.

                        _PROFUSELY ILLUSTRATED_

                           IN THREE VOLUMES

                                VOL. I.

                            SPECIAL EDITION

                     CASSELL AND COMPANY, LIMITED
                 _LONDON, PARIS, NEW YORK & MELBOURNE_
                          ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



Part I.



Crime Distinguished from Law-breaking--The General Liability to
Crime--Preventive Agencies--Plan of the Work--Different Types of Murders
and Robberies--Crime Developed by Civilisation--The Police the Shield
and Buckler of Society--Difficulty of Disappearing under Modern
Conditions--The Press an Aid to the Police: the Cases of Courvoisier,
Müller, and Lefroy--The Importance of Small Clues--"Man Measurement" and
Finger-Prints--Strong Scents as Clues--Victims of Blind Chance: the
Cases of Troppmann and Peace--Superstitions of Criminals--Dogs and other
Animals as Adjuncts to the Police--Australian Blacks as Trackers:
Instances of their Almost Superhuman Skill--How Criminals give
themselves Away: the Murder of M. Delahache, the Stepney Murder, and
other Instances--Cases in which there is Strong but not Sufficient
Evidence: the Great Coram Street and Burdell Murders: the Probable
Identity of "Jack the Ripper"--Undiscovered Murders: the Rupprecht, Mary
Rogers, Nathan, and other Cases: Similar Cases in India: the Button
Crescent Murder: the Murder of Lieutenant Roper--The Balance in Favour
of the Police.....1

Part II.




Judge Cambo, of Malta--The D'Anglades--The Murder of Lady
Mazel--Execution of William Shaw for the Murder of his Daughter--The
Sailmaker of Deal and the alleged Murder of a Boatswain--Brunell, the
Innkeeper--Du Moulin, the Victim of a Gang of Coiners--The Famous Calas
Case at Toulouse--Gross Perversion of Justice at Nuremberg--The Blue



Lesurques and the Robbery of the Lyons Mail--The Champignelles
Mystery--Judge Garrow's Story--An Imposition practised at York
Assizes--A Husband claimed by Two Wives--A Milwaukee Mystery--A
Scottish Case--The Kingswood Rectory Murder--The Cannon Street Murder--A
Narrow Escape.....95



Captain Donellan and the Poisoning of Sir Theodosius Boughton:
Donellan's Suspicious Conduct: Evidence of John Hunter, the great
Surgeon: Sir James Stephen's View: Corroborative Story from his
Father--The Lafarge Case: Madame Lafarge and the Cakes: Doctors differ
as to Presence of Arsenic in the Remains: Possible Guilt of Denis
Barbier: Madame Lafarge's Condemnation: Pardoned by Napoleon
III.--Charge against Madame Lafarge of stealing a School Friend's
Jewels: Her Defence: Conviction--Madeleine Smith charged with Poisoning
her _Fiancé_: "Not Proven": the Latest Facts--The Wharton-Ketchum Case
in Baltimore, U.S.A.--The Story of the Perrys.....129



The Saffron Hill Murder: Narrow Escape of Pellizioni: Two Men in Newgate
for the same Offence--The Murder of Constable Cock--The Edlingham
Burglary: Arrest, Trial, and Conviction of Brannagan and Murphy:
Severity of Judge Manisty: A new Trial: Brannagan and Murphy Pardoned
and Compensated: Survivors of the Police Prosecutors put on their Trial,
but Acquitted--Lord Cochrane's Case: His Tardy Rehabilitation.....169

Part III.




Origin of Police--Definitions--First Police in France--Charles V.--Louis
XIV.--The Lieutenant-General of Police: His Functions and Powers--La
Reynie: His Energetic Measures against Crime: As a Censor of the Press:
His Steps to Check Gambling and Cheating at Games of Chance--La Reynie's
Successors: the D'Argensons, Hérault, D'Ombréval, Berryer--The Famous de
Sartines--Two Instances of his Omniscience--Lenoir and Espionage--De
Crosne, the last and most feeble Lieutenant-General of Police--The Story
of the Bookseller Blaziot--Police under the Directory and the
Empire--Fouché: His Beginnings and First Chances: A Born Police Officer:
His Rise and Fall--General Savary: His Character: How he organised his
Service of Spies: His humiliating Failure in the Conspiracy of General
Malet--Fouché's return to Power: Some Views of his Character.....191


EARLY POLICE (_continued_): ENGLAND.

Early Police in England--Edward I.'s Act--Elizabeth's Act for
Westminster--Acts of George II. and George III.--State of London towards
the End of the Eighteenth Century--Gambling and Lottery
Offices--Robberies on the River Thames--Receivers--Coiners--The
Fieldings as Magistrates--The Horse Patrol--Bow Street and its Runners:
Townsend, Vickery, and others--Blood Money--Tyburn Tickets--Negotiations
with Thieves to recover stolen Property--Sayer--George Ruthven--Serjeant
Ballantine on the Bow Street Runners compared with modern



The "New Police" introduced by Peel--The System supported by the Duke of
Wellington--Opposition from the Vestries--Brief Account of the
Metropolitan Police: Its Uses and Services--The River Police--The City
Police--Extra Police Services--The Provincial Police.....246


MODERN POLICE (_continued_): PARIS.

The Spy System under the Second Empire--The Manufacture of
_Dossiers_--M. Andrieux receives his own on being appointed Prefect--The
Clerical Police of Paris--The _Sergents de Ville_--The Six Central
Brigades--The Cabmen of Paris, and how they are kept in Order--Stories
of Honest and of Dishonest Cabmen--Detectives and Spies--Newspaper
Attacks upon the Police--Their General Character.....258


MODERN POLICE (_continued_): NEW YORK.

Greater New York--Despotic Position of the Mayor--Constitution of the
Police Force--Dr. Parkhurst's Indictment--The Lexow Commission and its
Report--Police Abuses: Blackmail, Brutality, Collusion with Criminals,
Electoral Corruption, the Sale of Appointments and Promotions--Excellence
of the Detective Bureau--The Black Museum of New York--The
Identification Department--Effective Control of Crime.....268


MODERN POLICE (_continued_): RUSSIA.

Mr. Sala's Indictment of the Russian Police--Their Wide-reaching
Functions--Instances of Police Stupidity--Why Sala Avoided the
Police--Von H---- and his Spoons--Herr Jerrmann's Experiences--Perovsky,
the Reforming Minister of the Interior--The Regular Police--A Rural
Policeman's Visit to a Peasant's House--The State Police--The Third
Section--Attacks upon Generals Mezentzoff and Drenteln--The "Paris Box
of Pills"--Sympathisers with Nihilism: An Invaluable Ally--Leroy
Beaulieu on the Police of Russia--Its Ignorance and Inadequate Pay--The
Case of Vera Zassoulich--The Passport System: How it is Evaded and
Abused: Its Oppressiveness.....288


MODERN POLICE (_continued_): INDIA.

The New System Compared with the Old--Early Difficulties Gradually
Overcome--The Village Police in India--Discreditable Methods under the
Old System--Torture, Judicial and Extra-Judicial--Native Dislike of
Police Proceedings--Cases of Men Confessing to Crimes of which they were
Innocent--A Mysterious Case of Theft--Trumped-up Charges of
Murder--Simulating Suicide--An Infallible Test of Death--The Paternal
Duties of the Police--The Native Policeman Badly Paid.....312



The Detective in Fiction and in Fact--Early Detection--Case of Lady
Ivy--Thomas Chandler--Mackoull, and how he was run down by a Scots
Solicitor--Vidocq: his Early Life, Police Services, and End--French
Detectives generally--Amicable Relations between French and English



English Detectives--Early Prejudices against them Lived Down--The late
Mr. Williamson--Inspector Melville--Sir C. Howard Vincent--Dr.
Anderson--Mr. Macnaghten--Mr. McWilliam and the Detectives of the City
Police--A Country Detective's Experiences--Allan Pinkerton's first Essay
in Detection--The Private Inquiry Agent and the Lengths to which he will

Part IV.




Recurrence of Criminal Types--Heredity and Congenital Instinct--The
Jukes and other Families of Criminals--John Hatfield--Anthelme Collet's
Amazing Career of Fraud--The Story of Pierre Cognard: Count Pontis de
St. Hélène: Recognised by an old Convict Comrade: Sent to the Galleys
for Life--Major Semple: His many Vicissitudes in Foreign Armies: Thief
and Begging-Letter Writer: Transported to Botany Bay.....387



Richard Coster--Sheridan, the American Bank Thief--Jack Canter--The
Frenchman Allmayer, a typical Nineteenth Century Swindler--Paraf--The
Tammany Frauds--Burton, _alias_ Count von Havard--Dr. Vivian, a bogus
Millionaire Bridegroom--Mock Clergymen: Dr. Berrington: Dr.
Keatinge--Harry Benson, a Prince of Swindlers: The Scotland Yard
Detectives suborned: Benson's Adventures after his Release: Commits
Suicide in the Tombs Prison--Max Shinburn and his Feats.....409



Criminal Women Worse than Criminal Men--Bell Star--Comtesse
Sandor--Mother M----, the Famous Female Receiver of Stolen Goods--The
"German Princess"--Jenny Diver--The Baroness de Menckwitz--Emily
Lawrence--Louisa Miles--Mrs. Gordon-Baillie: Her Dashing Career: Becomes
Mrs. Percival Frost: the Crofters' Friend: Triumphal Visit to the
Antipodes: Extensive Frauds on Tradesmen: Sentenced to Penal
Servitude--A Viennese Impostor--Big Bertha, the "Confidence


Part I.


     Crime Distinguished from Law-breaking--The General Liability to
     Crime--Preventive Agencies--Plan of the Work--Different Types of
     Murders and Robberies--Crime Developed by Civilisation--The Police
     the Shield and Buckler of Society--Difficulty of Disappearing under
     Modern Conditions--The Press an Aid to the Police: the Cases of
     Courvoisier, Müller, and Lefroy--The Importance of Small
     Clues--"Man Measurement" and Finger-Prints--Strong Scents as
     Clues--Victims of Blind Chance: the Cases of Troppmann and
     Peace--Superstitions of Criminals--Dogs and other Animals as
     Adjuncts to the Police--Australian Blacks as Trackers: Instances of
     their Almost Superhuman Skill--How Criminals give themselves Away:
     the Murder of M. Delahache, the Stepney Murder, and other
     Instances--Cases in which there is Strong but not Sufficient
     Evidence: the Burdell and Various Other Murders: the Probable
     Identity of "Jack the Ripper"--Undiscovered Murders: the Rupprecht,
     Mary Rogers, Nathan, and other Cases: Similar Cases in India: the
     Burton Crescent Murder: the Murder of Lieutenant Roper--The Balance
     in Favour of the Police.


Crime is the transgression by individuals of rules made by the
community. Wrong-doing may be either intentional or accidental--a wilful
revolt against law, or a lapse through ignorance of it. Both are
punishable by all codes alike, but the latter is not necessarily a
crime. To constitute a really criminal act the offence must be wilful,
perverse, malicious; the offender then becomes the general enemy, to be
combated by all good citizens, through their chosen defenders, the
police. This warfare has existed from the earliest times; it is in
constant progress around us to-day, and it will continue to be waged
until the advent of that Millennium in which there is to be no more evil
passion to agitate mankind.


(_From Photographs preserved at the Black Museum, New Scotland Yard._)]

It may be said that society itself creates the crimes that most beset
it. If the good things of life were more evenly distributed, if everyone
had his rights, if there were no injustice, no oppression, there would
be no attempts to readjust an unequal balance by violent or flagitious
means. There is some force in this, but it is very far from covering the
whole ground, and it cannot excuse many forms of crime. Crime, indeed,
is the birthmark of humanity, a fatal inheritance known to the
theologians as original sin. Crime, then, must be constantly present in
the community, and every son of Adam may, under certain conditions, be
drawn into it. To paraphrase a great saying, some achieve crime, some
have it thrust upon them; but most of us (we may make the statement
without subscribing to all the doctrines of the criminal
anthropologists) are born to crime. The assertion is as old as the
hills; it was echoed in the fervent cry of pious John Bradford when he
pointed to the man led out to execution, "There goes John Bradford but
for the grace of God!"

Criminals are manufactured both by social cross-purposes and by the
domestic neglect which fosters the first fatal predisposition.
"Assuredly external factors and circumstances count for much in the
causation of crime," says Maudsley. The preventive agencies are all the
more necessary where heredity emphasises the universal natural tendency.
The taint of crime is all the more potent in those whose parentage is
evil. The germ is far more likely to flourish into baleful vitality if
planted by congenital depravity. This is constantly seen with the
offspring of criminals. But it is equally certain that the poison may be
eradicated, the evil stamped out, if better influences supervene
betimes. Even the most ardent supporters of the theory of the "born
criminal" admit that this, as some think, imaginary monster, although
possessing all the fatal characteristics, does not necessarily commit
crime. The bias may be checked; it may lie latent through life unless
called into activity by certain unexpected conditions of time and
chance. An ingenious refinement of the old adage, "Opportunity makes the
thief," has been invented by an Italian scientist, Baron Garofalo, who
declares that "opportunity only reveals the thief"; it does not create
the predisposition, the latent thievish spirit.


(_From Photographs at the Black Museum._)]

However it may originate, there is still little doubt of the
universality, the perennial activity of crime. We may accept the
unpleasant fact without theorising further as to the genesis of crime. I
propose in these pages to take criminals as I find them; to accept crime
as an actual fact, and in its multiform manifestations; to deal with its
commission, the motives that have caused it, the methods by which it has
been perpetrated, the steps taken--sometimes extraordinarily ingenious
and astute, sometimes foolishly forgetful and ineffective--to conceal
the deed and throw the pursuers off the scent; on the other hand, I
shall set forth in some detail the agencies employed for detection and
exposure. The subject is comprehensive, the amount of material available
is colossal, almost overwhelming.

Every country, civilised and uncivilised, the whole world at large in
all ages, has been cursed with crime. To deal with but a fractional part
of the evil deeds that have disgraced humanity would fill endless
volumes; where "envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness" have
so often impelled those of weak moral sense to yield to their criminal
instincts, a full catalogue would be impossible. It must be remembered
that crime is ever active in seeking new outlets, always keen to adopt
new methods of execution; the ingenuity of criminals is infinite, their
patient inventiveness is only equalled by their reckless audacity. They
will take life without a moment's hesitation, and often for a miserably
small gain; will prepare great coups a year or more in advance and wait
still longer for the propitious moment to strike home; will employ
address and great brain power, show fine resource in organisation, the
faculty of leadership, and readiness to obey; will utilise much
technical skill; will assume strange disguises and play many different
parts, all in the prosecution of their nefarious schemes or in escaping
penalties after the deed is done.

With material so abundant, so varied and complicated, it will be
necessary to use some discretion, to follow certain clearly defined
lines of choice. I propose in these pages to adopt the principle
embodied in the title and to deal more particularly with the "mysteries"
of crime and its incomplete, partial, or complete detection; with
offences not immediately brought home to their perpetrators; offences
prepared in secret, committed by offenders who have long remained
perhaps entirely unknown, but who have sometimes met with their true
deserts; offences that have in consequence exercised the ingenuity of
pursuers, showing the highest development of the game of hide-and-seek,
where the hunt is man, where one side fights for life and liberty,
immunity from well-merited reprisals, the other is armed with authority
to capture the human beast of prey. The flights and vicissitudes of
criminals with the police at their heels make up a chronicle of moving,
hair-breadth adventure unsurpassed by books of travel and sport.

Typical cases only can be taken, in number according to their


_Photo: Cassell & Company, Limited._]

relative interest and importance, but all more or less illustrating and
embracing the hydra-headed varieties of crime. We shall see murders most
foul, committed under the strangest conditions; brutal and ferocious
attacks, followed by the most cold-blooded callousness in disposing of
the evidences of the crime. In some cases a man will kill, as Garofalo
puts it, "for money and possessions, to succeed to property, to be rid
of one wife through hatred of her or to marry another, to remove an
inconvenient witness, to avenge a wrong, to show his skill or his hatred
and revolt against authority." This class of criminal was well
exemplified by the French murderer Lacenaire, who boasted that he would
kill a man as coolly as he would drink a glass of wine. They are the
deliberate murderers, who kill of malice aforethought and in cold blood.
There will be slow, secret poisonings, often producing confusion and
difference of opinion among the most distinguished scientists;
successful associations of thieves and rogues, with ledgers and bank
balances, and regularly audited accounts; secret societies, some formed
for purely flagitious ends, with commerce and capitalists for their
quarry; others for alleged political purposes, but working with fire and
sword, using the forces of anarchy and disorder against all established

The desire to acquire wealth and possessions easily, or at least without
regular, honest exertion, has ever been a fruitful source of crime. The
depredators, whose name is legion, the birds of prey ever on the alert
to batten upon the property of others, have flourished always, in all
ages and climes, often unchecked or with long impunity. Their methods
have varied almost indefinitely with their surroundings and
opportunities. Now they have merely used violence and brute force,
singly or in associated numbers, by open attack on highway and byway, on
road, river, railway, or deep sea; now they have got at their quarry by
consummate patience and ingenuity, plotting, planning, undermining or
overcoming the strongest safeguards, the most vigilant precautions.
Robbery has been practised in every conceivable form: by piracy, the
bold adventure of the sea-rover flying his black flag in the face of the
world; by brigandage in new or distracted communities, imperfectly
protected by the law; by daring outrage upon the travelling public, as
in the case of highwaymen, bushrangers, "holders-up" of trains; by the
forcible entry of premises or the breaking down of defences designed
against attack--by burglary in banks and houses, "winning" through the
iron walls of safes and strong-rooms, so as to reach the treasure
within, whether gold or securities or precious stones; by robberies from
the person, daring garrotte robberies, dexterous neat-handed pilfering,
pocket-picking, counter-snatching; by insinuating approaches to
simple-minded folk, and the astute, endlessly multiplied application of
the time-honoured Confidence Trick.

Crime has been greatly developed by civilisation, by the numerous
processes invented to add to the comforts and conveniences in the
business of daily life. The adoption of a circulating medium was soon
followed by the production of spurious money, the hundred and one
devices for forging notes, manufacturing coin, and clipping, sweating,
and misusing that made of precious metals. The extension of banks, of
credit, of financial transactions on paper, has encouraged the trade of
the forger and fabricator, whose misdeeds, aimed against monetary values
of all kinds, cover an extraordinarily wide range. The gigantic
accumulation no less than the general diffusion of wealth, with the
variety of operations that accompany its profitable manipulation, has
offered temptations irresistibly strong to evil-or weak-minded people,
who seem to see chances of aggrandisement, or of escape from pressing
embarrassments, with the strong hope always of replacing abstractions,
rectifying defalcations, or altogether evading detection. Less criminal,
perhaps, but not less reprehensible, than the deliberately planned
colossal frauds of a Robson, a Redpath, or a Sadleir are the victims of
adverse circumstances, the Strahans, Dean-Pauls, Fauntleroys, who
succeeded to bankrupt businesses and sought to cover up insolvency with
a fight, a losing fight, against misfortune, resorting to nefarious
practices, wholesale forgery, absolute misappropriation, and
unpardonable breaches of trust.

Between the "high flyers," the artists in crime, and the lesser fry, the
rogues, swindlers, and fraudulent impostors, it is only a question of
degree. These last-named, too, have in many instances swept up great
gains. The class of adventurer is nearly limitless; it embraces many
types, often original in character and in their criminal methods, clever
knaves possessed of useful qualities--indeed, of natural gifts that
might have led them to assured fortune had they but chosen the straight
path and followed it patiently. We shall see with what infinite labour a
scheme of imposture has been built up and maintained, how nearly
impossible it was to combat the fraud, how readily the swindler will
avail himself of the latest inventions, the telegraph and the telephone,
of chemical appliances, of photography in counterfeiting signatures or
preparing banknote plates, ere long, perchance, of the Röntgen rays. We
shall find the most elaborate and cleverly designed attacks on great
banking corporations, whether by open force or insidious methods of
forgery and falsification, attacks upon the vast stores of valuables
that luxury keeps at hand in jewellers' safes and shop fronts, and on
the dressing-tables of great dames. Crime can always command talent,
industry also, albeit laziness is ingrained in the criminal class. The
desire to win wealth easily, to grow suddenly rich by appropriating the
possessions or the earnings of others, is no doubt a strong incitement
to crime; yet the depredator who will not work steadily at any honest
occupation will give infinite time and pains to compass his criminal



Society, weak, gullible, and defenceless, handicapped by a thousand
conventions, would soon be devoured alive by its greedy parasites: but
happily it has devised the shield and buckler of the police; not an
entirely effective protector, perhaps, but earnest, devoted,
unhesitating in the performance of its duties. The finer achievements of
eminent police officers are as striking as the exploits of the enemies
they continually pursue. In the endless warfare success inclines now to
this side, now to that; but the forces of law and order have generally
the preponderance in the end. Infinite pains, unwearied patience,
abounding wit, sharp-edged intuition, promptitude in seizing the vaguest
shadow of a clue, unerring sagacity in clinging to it and following it
up to the end--these qualities make constantly in favour of the police.
The fugitive is often equally alert, no less gifted, no less astute;
his crime has often been cleverly planned so as to leave few, if any,
traces easily or immediately apparent, but he is constantly overmatched,
and the game will in consequence go against him. Now and again, no doubt
he is inexplicably stupid and shortsighted, and will run his head
straight into the noose. Yet the hunters are not always free from the
same fault; they will show blindness, will overrun their quarry,
sometimes indeed open a door for escape.

In measuring the means and the comparative advantages of the opponents,
of hunted and hunters, it is generally believed that the police have
much the best of it. The machinery, the organisation of modern life,
favours the pursuers. The world's "shrinkage," the facilities for
travel, the narrowing of neutral ground, of secure sanctuary for the
fugitive, the universal, almost immediate, publicity that waits on
startling crimes--all these are against the criminal. Electricity is his
worst and bitterest foe, and next to it rank the post and the Press.
Flight is checked by the wire, the first mail carries full particulars
everywhere, both to the general public and to a ubiquitous international
police, brimful of _camaraderie_ and willing to help each other. It is
not easy to disappear nowadays, although I have heard the contrary
stoutly maintained. A well-known police officer once assured me that he
could easily and effectually efface himself, given certain conditions,
such as the possession of sufficient funds (not of a tainted origin that
might draw down suspicion), or the knowledge of some honest wage-earning
handicraft, or fluency in some foreign language, and, above all, a face
and features not easily recognisable. Given any of these conditions, he
declared he could hide himself completely in the East-End, or the
Western Hebrides, or South America, or provincial France, or some
Spanish mountain town. In proof of this he declared that he had lived
for many months in an obscure French village, and, being well acquainted
with French, passed quite unknown, while watching for someone; and he
strengthened his argument by quoting the case of the perpetrator of a
recent robbery of pearls, who baffled pursuit for months, and gave
herself up voluntarily in the end.

On the other hand, it may be questioned whether this lady was altogether
hidden, or whether she was so terribly "wanted" by the police. In any
case, pursuit was not so keen as it would have been with more notorious
criminals. Nor can the many well-established cases of men and women
leading double lives be quoted in support of this view. Such people are
not necessarily in request; there may be a secret reason for
concealment, for dreading discovery, but it has generally been of a
social, a domestic, not necessarily a criminal character. We have all
heard of the crossing-sweeper who did so good a trade that he kept his
brougham to bring him to business from a snug home at the other end of
the town. A case was quoted in the American papers some years back where
a merchant of large fortune traded under one name, and was widely known
under it "down town," yet lived under another "up town," where he had a
wife and large family. This remarkable dissembler kept up the fraud for
more than half a century, and when he died his eldest son was fifty-one,
the rest of his children were middle-aged, and none of them had the
smallest idea of their father's wealth, or of his other existence. The
case is not singular, moreover. Another on all fours, and even more
romantic, was that of two youths with different names, walking side by
side in the streets of New York, who saluted the same man as father; a
gentleman with two distinct personalities.

Such deception may be long undetected when it is no one's business to
expose it. Where crime complicates it, where the police are on the alert
and have an object in hunting the wrong-doer down, disappearance is
seldom entirely successful. Dr. Jekyll could not cover Mr. Hyde
altogether when his homicidal mania became ungovernable. The clergyman
who lived a life of sanctity and preached admirable sermons to an
appreciative congregation for five full years was run down at last and
exposed as a noted burglar in private life. "Sir Granville Temple," as
he called himself, when he had committed bigamy several times, was
eventually uncloaked and shown up as an army deserter whose father was
master of a workhouse. Criminals who seek effacement do not take into
sufficient account the curiosity and inquisitiveness of mankind. At
times, just after the perpetration of a great crime, when the criminal
is missing and the pursuit at fault, every gossip, landlady, "slavey,"
local tradesman, 'bus conductor, lounger on the cab rank, newsboy,
railway guard, becomes an active amateur agent of the police, prying,
watching, wondering, looking askance at every stranger and newcomer;
ready to call in the constable on the slightest suspicion, or
immediately report any unusual circumstance. The rapid dissemination of
news to the four quarters of the land by our far-reaching,
indefatigable, and wide-awake Press has undoubtedly secured many
arrests. The judicious publication of certain details, of personal
descriptions, of names, aliases, and the supposed movements of persons
in request, has constantly borne fruit. In France police officials often
deprecate the incautious utterances of the Press, but it is a common
practice of theirs in Paris to give out fully prepared items to the
newspapers with the express intention of deceiving their quarry; the
missing man has been lulled into fancied security by hearing that the
pursuers are on a wrong scent, and, issuing from concealment, "gives
himself away."


(_By permission of the "Daily Telegraph."_)]


Long ago, as far back as the murder of Lord William Russell by
Courvoisier, proof of the crime was greatly assisted by the publication
of the story in the Press. Madame Piolaine, an hotel-keeper, read in the
newspaper of the arrest of a suspected person, recognising him as a man
who had been in her service as a waiter. Only a day or two after the
murder he had come to her, begging her to take charge of a brown paper
parcel, for which he would call. He had never returned, and now Madame
Piolaine hunted up the parcel, which lay at the bottom of a cupboard,
where she had placed it. The fact that Courvoisier had brought it
justified her in examining it, and she now found that it contained a
quantity of silver plate, and other articles of value. When the police
were called in, they identified the whole as part of the property
abstracted from Lord William Russell's. Here was a link directly
connecting Courvoisier with the murder. Hitherto the evidence had been
mainly presumptive. The discovery of Lord William's Waterloo medal, with
his gold rings and a ten-pound note, under the skirting-board in
Courvoisier's pantry was strong suspicion, but no more. The man had a
gold locket, too, in his possession, the property of Lord William
Russell, but it had been lost some time antecedent to the murder. All
the evidence was presumptive, and the case was not made perfectly clear
until Madame Piolaine was brought into it through the publicity given by
the Press.

In the murder of Mr. Briggs by the German, Franz Müller, detection was
greatly facilitated by the publicity given to the facts of the crime.
The hat found in the railway carriage where the deed had been done was a
chief clue. It bore the maker's name inside the cover, and very soon a
cabman who had read this in the newspaper came forward to say he had
bought that very hat at that very maker's for a man named Müller. Müller
had been a lodger of his, and had given his little daughter a jeweller's
cardboard box, bearing the name of "Death, Cheapside." Already this Mr.
Death had produced the murdered man's gold chain, saying he had given
another in exchange for it to a man supposed to be a German. There could
be no doubt now that Müller was the murderer. His movements were easily
traced. He had gone across the Atlantic in a sailing ship, and was
easily forestalled by the detectives in a fast Atlantic liner, which
also carried the jeweller and the cabman.

Where identity is clear the publication of the _signalement_, if
possible of the likeness, has reduced capture to a certainty; it is a
mere question then of time and money. Lefroy, the murderer of Mr. Gold,
was caught through the publicity given to his portrait, which had
appeared in the columns of the _Daily Telegraph_. Some eminent but
highly cautious police officers nevertheless deprecate the interference
of the Press, and have said that the premature or injudicious disclosure
of facts obtained in the progress of investigation has led to the escape
of criminals. It is to be feared that there is an increasing distrust of
the official methods of detection, and the Press is more and more
inclined to institute a pursuit of its own when mysterious cases
continue unsolved. We may yet see this system, which has sometimes been
employed by energetic reporters in Paris, more largely adopted here.
Without entering into the pro's and con's of such competition, it is but
right to admit that the Press, with its powerful influence, its
ramifications endless and widespread, has already done great service to
justice in following up crime. So convinced are the London police
authorities of the value of a public organ for police purposes, that
they publish a newspaper of their own, the admirably managed _Police
Gazette_, which is an improved form of a journal started in 1828. This
gazette, which is circulated gratis to all police forces in the United
Kingdom, gives full particulars of crimes and of persons "wanted," with
rough but often life-like woodcut portraits and sketches that help
capture. Ireland has a similar organ, the Dublin _Hue and Cry_; and some
of the chief constables of counties send out police reports that are
highly useful at times. Through these various channels news travels
quickly to all parts, puts all interested on the alert, and makes them
active in running down their prey.


Detection depends largely, of course, upon the knowledge, astuteness,
ingenuity, and logical powers of police officers, although they find
many independent and often unexpected aids, as we shall see. The best
method of procedure is clearly laid down in police manuals: an immediate
systematic investigation on the theatre of a crime, the minute
examination of premises, the careful search for tracks and traces, for
any article left behind, however insignificant, such as the merest
fragment of clothing, a scrap of paper, a harmless tool, a hat, half a
button; the slow, persistent inquiry into the antecedents of suspected
persons, of their friends and associates, their movements and ways,
unexplained change of domicile, proved possession of substantial funds
after previous indigence--all these are detailed for the guidance of the
detective. It will be seen in the following pages how small a thing has
often sufficed to form a clue. A name chalked upon a door in tell-tale
handwriting; half a word scratched upon a chisel, has led to the
identification of its guilty owner, as in the case of Orrock. A button
dropped after a burglary has been found to correspond with those on the
coat of a man in custody for another offence, and with the very place
from which it was torn. The cloth used to enclose human remains has
been recognised as that used by tailors, and the same with the system of
sewing, thus narrowing inquiry to a particular class of workmen; and the
fact is well illustrated in the detection of Voirbo, to be hereafter
told. The position of a body has shown that death could not have been
accidental. A false tooth, fortunately incombustible, has sufficed for
proof of identity when every other vestige has been annihilated by fire,
as in the case of Dr. Webster of Boston.

[Illustration: _Photo: Cassell & Company, Limited._


(_The white paper has been placed upon the cloth to show up the

In one clear case of murder, detection was aided by the simple discovery
of a few half-burnt matches that the criminal had used in lighting
candles in his victim's room to keep up the illusion that he was still
alive. A dog, belonging to a murdered man, had been seen to leave the
house with him on the morning of the crime, and was yet found fourteen
days later alive and well, with fresh food by him, in the locked-up
apartment to which the occupier had never returned. The strongest
evidence against Patch, the murderer of Mr. Blight at Rotherhithe, was
that the fatal shot could not possibly have been fired from the road
outside, and the first notion of this was suggested by the doctor called
in, afterwards eminent as Sir Astley Cooper. In the Gervais case proof
depended greatly upon the date when the roof of a cellar had been
disturbed, and this was shown to have been necessarily some time before,
for in the interval the cochineal insects had laid their eggs, and this
only takes place at a particular season. We shall see in the Voirbo
case, quoted above, how an ingenious police officer, when he found
bloodstains on a floor, discovered where a body had been buried by
emptying a can of water on the uneven stones and following the channels
in which it ran.


Finger-prints and foot-marks have again and again been cleverly worked
into undeniable evidence. The impression of the first is personal and
peculiar to the individual; by the latter the police have been able to
fix beyond question the direction in which criminals have moved, their
character and class, and the neighbourhood that owns them. The labours
of the scientist have within the last few years produced new methods of
identification, which are invaluable in the pursuit and detection of
criminals. The patient investigations of a medical expert, M. Bertillon,
of Paris (one of the witnesses in the Dreyfus case), developing the
scientific discovery of his father, have proved beyond all question that
certain measurements of the human frame are not only constant and
unchangeable, but peculiar to each subject; the width of the head, the
length of the face, of the middle finger, of the lower limbs from knee
to foot, and so forth, provide such a number of combinations that no two
persons, speaking broadly, possess them all exactly alike. This has
established the system of anthropometry, of "man measurement," which has
now been adopted on the same lines by every civilised nation in the
world. The system, however, is on the face of it a complicated one, and
at New Scotland Yard it has now been abandoned in favour of the
finger-prints method. Mr. Francis Galton, to whose researches this mode
of identification is due, has proved that finger prints, exhibited in
certain unalterable combinations, suffice to fix individual identity,
and his system of notation, as now practised in England, will soon
provide a general register of all known criminals in the country.



The ineffaceable odour of musk and other strong scents has more than
once brought home robbery and murder to their perpetrators. A most
interesting case is recorded by General Harvey,[1] where, in the plunder
of a native banker and pawnbroker in India, an entire pod of musk, just
as it had been excised from the deer, was carried off with a number of
valuables. Musk is a costly commodity, for it is rare, and obtained
generally from far-off Thibet. The police, in following up the dacoits,
invaded their _tanda_, or encampment, and were at once conscious of an
unmistakable and overpowering smell of musk,

OPIUM" (p. 18).]

which was presently dug up with a number of rupees, coins of an uncommon

In another instance a scent merchant's agent, returning from Calcutta,
brought back with him a flask of spikenard. He travelled up country by
boat part of the way, then landed to complete the journey, and carried
with him the spikenard. He fell among thieves, a small gang of
professional poisoners, who disposed of him, killing him and his
companions and throwing them into the river. Long afterwards the
criminals, who had appropriated all their goods, were detected by the
tell-tale smell of the spikenard in their house, and the flask, nearly
emptied, was discovered beneath a stack of fuel in a small room.

Yet again, the smell of opium led to the detection of a robbery in the
Punjaub, where a train of bullock carts laden with the drug was
plundered by dacoits. After a short struggle the bullock drivers bolted,
the thieves seized the opium and buried it. But, returning through a
village, they were intercepted as suspicious characters, and it was
found that their clothes smelt strongly of opium. Then their footsteps
were traced back to where they had committed the robbery, and thence to
a spot in the dry bed of a river, in which the opium was found buried.

In India, again, many cases of obscure homicide have been brought to
light by such a trifling fact as the practice, common among native
women, of wearing glass, or rather shell lac, bangles or bracelets.
These _choorees_, as they are called, are heated, then wound round wrist
or ankle in continuous circles and joined. They are very brittle, and
will naturally be easily smashed in a violent struggle. Fruitless search
was made for a woman who had disappeared from a village, until in a
field adjoining the fragments of broken _choorees_ were picked up. On
digging below, the corpse of the missing woman, bearing marks of foul
play, was discovered.

In another case a father identified certain broken _choorees_ as
belonging to his daughter; they had been found, with traces of blood and
wisps of female hair, near a well, and were the means of bringing home
the murder. Cheevers[2] tells us that a young woman was seen to throw a
boy ten years of age into a dry well twenty feet deep. Information was
given, and the child was extracted, a corpse. Pieces of _choorees_ were
picked up near the well similar to those worn by the woman, who was
arrested and eventually convicted of murder. Here the ingenious defence
was set up that the child's mother, a woman of the same caste as the
accused, and likely to wear the same kind of bangle, had gone to wail at
the well-side and might have broken her glass ornaments in the excess of
her grief. But sentence of death was passed.


Among the many outside aids to detection, "luck," blind chance, takes a
very prominent place. We shall come upon innumerable instances of this.
Troppmann, the wholesale murderer, was apprehended quite by accident,
because his papers were not in proper form. He might still have escaped
prolonged arrest had he not run for it and tried to drown himself in the
harbour at Havre. The chief of a band of French burglars was arrested in
a street quarrel, and was found to be carrying a great part of the
stolen bonds in his pocket. When Charles Peace was taken at Blackheath
in the act of burglary, and charged with wounding a policeman, no one
suspected that this supposed half-caste mulatto, with his dyed skin, was
a murderer much wanted in another part of the country. Every good police
officer freely admits the assistance he has had from fortune. One of
these--famous, not to say notorious, for he fell into bad
ways--described to me how he was much thwarted and baffled in a certain
case by his inability to come upon the person he was after, or any trace
of him, and how, meeting a strange face in the street, a sudden impulse
prompted him to turn and follow it, with the satisfactory result that he
was led straight to his desired goal. The same officer confessed that
chancing to see a letter delivered by the postman at a certain door he
was tempted to become possessed of it, and did not hesitate to steal it.
When he had opened and read it, he found the clue of which he was in

Criminals themselves believe strongly in luck, and in some cases are
most superstitious. An Italian, whose speciality was sacrilege, never
broke into a church without kneeling down before the altar to pray for
good fortune and large booty. The whole system of Thuggee was based on
superstition. The bands never operated without taking the omens; noting
the flight of birds, the braying of a jackass to right or left, and so
on, interpreting these things as warnings


(_From an Old Print._)]

or as encouragements to proceed. This superstitious belief in luck is
still prevalent. A notorious banknote forger in France carefully
abstained from counterfeiting notes of two values, those for 500 francs
and 2,000 francs, being convinced that they would bring him into
trouble. Thieves, it has been noticed, generally follow one line of
business, because a first essay in it was successful. The man who steals
coats steals them continually; once a horse thief always a horse thief;
the forger sticks to his own line, as do the pickpocket, the burglar,
and the performer of the confidence trick. The burglar dislikes
extremely the use of any tools or instruments but his own; he generally
believes that another man's false keys, jemmies, and so forth, would
bring him bad luck. Only in matter-of-fact America does the cracksman
rise superior to superstition. There a good business is done by certain
people who lend housebreaking tools on hire.

Instinct, aboriginal and animal, has helped at times to bring criminals
to justice. The mediæval story of the dog of Montargis may be mere
fable, but it rests on historic tradition that after Macaire had
murdered Aubry de Montdidier in the forest of Bondy, the extraordinary
aversion shown by the dog to Macaire first aroused suspicion, and led to
the ordeal of mortal combat, in which the dog triumphed.


It has been sometimes suggested that the instinct of animals might be
further utilised in the pursuit of criminals. Something more than the
well-known unerring chase of the bloodhound might be got from the
marvellous intelligence of dogs. We shall see how the strange
restlessness of the dog owned by Wainwright's manager in the Whitechapel
Road nearly led to the discovery of the murdered Harriet Lane's remains.
The clever beast was perpetually scratching at the floor beneath which
the poor woman was buried, and his inconvenient restlessness no doubt
led to his own destruction, for Wainwright is said to have made away
with the dog. In India the idea of using the pariah dog for the purpose
of smelling out buried bodies has been often put forward. Dogs would
avail little, however, if the corpse lay at a great depth below ground,
and hence the suggestion to draw upon the keener sense, exercised over a
wider range above and below ground, of the vulture. This foul bird is
commonly believed to be untameable, but it might assist unconsciously.
Vultures are much given to perching upon the same tree near every Indian
station, and close observation might reveal the direction of their
flight. Their presence at any particular spot would constitute fair
grounds for suspicion that they were after carrion. Indian police
experience records many cases of the discovery of bodies through the
agency of kites, vultures, crows, and scavenging wild beasts. The
howling of a jackal has given the clue; in one remarkable case the body
of a murdered child was traced through the snarling and quarrelling of
jackals over the remains. A murderer who had buried his victim under a
heap of stones, on returning (the old story) to the spot found that it
had been unearthed by wild animals.


The strange, almost superhuman, powers of the Australian blacks in
following blind, invisible tracks have been turned to good account in
the detection of crime. Their senses of sight, smell, and touch are
abnormally acute. They can distinguish the trail of lost animals one
from the other, and follow it for hundreds of miles. Like the Red
Indians of North America, they judge by a leaf, a blade of grass, a mere
splash in the mud; they can tell with unfailing precision whether the
ground has been recently disturbed, and even what has passed over it.

A remarkable instance occurred in the colony of Victoria in 1851, when a
stockholder, travelling up to Melbourne with a considerable sum of
money, disappeared. His horse had returned riderless to the station, and
without saddle or bridle. A search was at once instituted, but proved
fruitless. The horse's hoof-marks were followed to the very boundary of
the run, near which stood a hut occupied by two shepherds. These men,
when questioned, declared that neither man nor horse had passed that
way. Then a native who worked on the station was pressed into the
service, and starting from the house, walking with downcast eyes and
occasionally putting his nose to the ground, he easily followed the
horse's track to the shepherds' hut, where he at once offered some
information. "Two white mans walk here," he said, pointing to
indications he alone could discover on the ground. A few yards farther
he cried, "Here fight! here large fight!" and it was seen that the grass
had been trampled down. Again, close at hand, he shouted in great
excitement, "Here kill--kill!" A minute examination of the spot showed
that the earth had been moved recently, and on turning it over a
quantity of clotted blood was found below.


(_A Sketch from Life._)]

There was nothing, however, definitely to prove foul play, and further
search was necessary. The black now discovered the tracks of men by the
banks of a small stream hard by, which formed the boundary of the run.
The stream was shrunk to a tiny thread after the long drought, and here
and there was swallowed up by sand. But it gathered occasionally into
deep, stagnant pools, which marked its course. Each of these the native
examined, still finding foot-marks on the margin. At last the party
reached a pond larger than any, wide, and seemingly very deep. The
tracker, after circling round and round the bank, said the trail had
ceased, and bent all his attention upon the surface of the water, where
a quantity of dark scum was floating. Some of this he skimmed off,
tasted and smelt it, and decided positively--"White man here."

The pond was soon dragged with grappling-irons and long spears, and
presently a large sack was brought up, which was found to contain the
mangled remains of the missing stockholder. The sack had been weighted
with many stones to prevent it from rising to the surface.

Suspicion fell upon the two shepherds who lived in the hut on the
boundary of the run. One was a convict on ticket-of-leave, the other a
deserter from a regiment in England. Both had taken part in the search,
and both had appeared much agitated and upset as the black's marvellous
discoveries were laid bare. Both, too, incautiously urged that the
search had gone far enough, and protested against examining the ponds.
While this was being done, and unobserved by them, a magistrate and two
constables went to their hut and searched it thoroughly. They first sent
away an old woman who acted as the shepherds' servant, and then turned
over the place. Nothing was found in the hut, but in an outhouse they
came upon a coat and waistcoat and two pairs of trousers, all much
stained with fresh blood-marks. On this the shepherds were arrested and
sent down to Melbourne.

What had become of the saddle-bags in which the murdered man had carried
his cash? It was surmised that they had been put by in some safe place,
and again the services of the native tracker were sought. He now made a
start from the shepherds' hut, and discovered as before, by sight and
smell, the tracks of two men's feet, travelling northward. These took
him to a gully or dry watercourse, in the centre of which was a high
pile of stones. The tracks ended at a stone on the side, where the
native said he smelt leather. When several stones had been taken down,
the saddle-bags, saddle, and bridle were found hidden in an inner
receptacle. The money, the motive of the murder, was still in the
bags--no less than £2,000--and had been left there, no doubt, for
removal at a more convenient time.


The shepherds were put on their trial, and the evidence thus accumulated
was deemed convincing by a jury. It was also proved that the
blood-stained clothes had been worn by the prisoners both on the day
before and on the very day of the murder. The stains were ascertained by
chemical analysis to be of human blood, not of sheep's, as set up by the
defence. It was also shown that the men had been absent from the hut the
greater part of the morning of the murder. They were executed at

This extraordinary faculty of following a trail is characteristic of all
the Australian blacks. It was remarkably illustrated in a Queensland
case, where a man was missing who was supposed to have been murdered,
and whose remains were discovered by the black trackers. An aged
shepherd, who had long served on a certain station, was at last sent off
with a considerable sum, arrears of pay. He started down country, but
was never heard of again. Various suspicious reports started a belief
that he had been the victim of foul play. The police were called in, and
proceeded to make a thorough search, assisted by several blacks, who
usually hang about the station loafing. But they lost their native
indolence when there was tracking to be done. Now they were roused to
keenest excitement, and entered eagerly into the work, jabbering and
gesticulating, with flashing eyes. No one, to look at these eyes,
generally dull and bleary, could imagine that they possessed such visual
powers, or that their owners were so shrewdly observant.


The search commenced at the hut lately occupied by the shepherd. The
first thing discovered, lying among the ashes of the hearth, was a
spade, which might have been used as a weapon of offence; spots on it,
as the blacks declared, were of blood. Some similar spots were pointed
out upon the hard, well-trodden ground outside, and the track led to a
creek or water-hole, on the banks of which the blacks picked up among
the tufts of short dried grass several locks of reddish-white hair,
invisible to everyone else. The depths of the water were now probed with
long poles, and the blacks presently fished up a blucher boot with an
iron heel. The hair and the boot were both believed to belong to the
missing shepherd. The trackers still found locks of hair, following them
to a second water-hole, where all traces ceased, and it was supposed by
some that the body lay there at the bottom. Not so the blacks, who
asserted that it had now been lifted upon horseback for removal to a
more distant spot, and in proof pointed out hoof-marks, which had
escaped observation until they detected them. The hoof-marks were large
and small, obviously of a mare and her foal. Yet the water-hole was
searched thoroughly; the blacks stripped and dived, they smelt and
tasted the water, but always shook their heads, and, as a matter of
fact, nothing was found in this second creek. The pursuit returned to
the hoof-marks, and these were followed to the edge of a scrub, where
for the time they were lost.

Next day, however, they were again picked up, on the hard, bare ground,
where there was hardly a blade of grass. They led to the far-off edge of
a plain, towards a small spiral column which ascended into the sky. It
was the remains of an old and dilapidated sheep-yard, which had been
burnt by the station overseer. This man, it should have been premised,
had all along been suspected of making away with the shepherd from
interested motives, having been the depositary of his savings. And it
was remembered that he had paid several visits in the last few days to
the burning sheep-yard. Now, when the search party reached the spot,
where little but charred and smouldering embers remained, the blacks
eagerly turned over the ashes. Suddenly a woman, a black "gin," screamed
shrilly, and cried, "Bones sit down here," and closer examination
disclosed a heap of calcined human remains. Small portions of the skull
were still unconsumed, and a few teeth were found, quite perfect, having
altogether escaped the action of the fire. Soon the buckle of a belt was
discovered, and identified as having been worn by the missing shepherd,
and also the iron heel of a boot corresponding to that found in the
first water-hole. Thus the marvellous sagacity of the black trackers had
solved the mystery of the shepherd's disappearance; but, although the
shepherd's fate was thereby established beyond doubt, the evidence was
not sufficient to bring home the crime of murder to the overseer.


Not the least useful of the many allies found by the police are the
criminals themselves. Their shortsightedness is often extraordinary;
even when seemingly most careful to cover up their tracks they will
neglect some small point, will drop unconsciously some slight clue,
which, sooner or later, must betray them. In an American murder, at
Michigan, a man killed his wife in the night by braining her with a
heavy club. His story was that his bedroom had been entered through the
window by some unknown murderer. This theory was at once disproved by
the fact that the window was still nailed down on one side. The real
murderer in planning the crime had extracted one nail and left the

The detection of the murderers of M. Delahache, a misanthrope who lived
with a paralysed mother and one old servant in a ruined abbey at La
Gloire Dieu, near Troyes, was much facilitated by the carelessness with
which the criminals neglected to carry off a note-book from the safe.
After they had slain their three victims, they forced the safe and
carried off a large quantity of securities payable to bearer, for M.
Delahache was a saving, well-to-do person. They took all the gold and
banknotes, but they left the title-deeds of the property and his
memorandum book, in which the late owner had recorded in shorthand,
illegible by the thieves, the numbers and description of the stock he
held, mostly in Russian and English securities. By means of these
indications it was possible to trace the stolen papers and secure the
thieves, who still possessed them, together with the pocket-book itself
and a number of other valuables that had belonged to M. Delahache.

Criminals continually "give themselves away" by their own carelessness,
their stupid, incautious behaviour. It is almost an axiom in detection
to watch the scene of a murder for the visit of the criminal, who seems
almost irresistibly drawn thither. The same impulse attracts the French
murderer to the Morgue, where his victim lies in full public view. This
is so thoroughly understood in Paris that the police keep officers in
plain clothes among the crowd which is always filing past the
plate-glass windows separating the public from the marble slopes on
which the bodies are exposed. An Indian criminal's steps generally lead
him homeward to his own village, on which the Indian police set a close
watch when a man is much wanted. Numerous cases might be quoted in which
offenders disclose their crime by ill-advised ostentation: the reckless
display of much cash by those who were, seemingly, poverty-stricken just
before; self-indulgent extravagance, throwing money about wastefully,
not seldom parading in the very clothes of their victims. A curious
instance of the neglect of common precaution was that of Wainwright, the
murderer of Harriet Lane, who left the _corpus delicti_, the damning
proof of his guilt, to the prying curiosity of an outsider, while he
went off in search of a cab.

One of the most remarkable instances of the want of reticence in a
great criminal and his detection through his own foolishness occurred in
the case of the Stepney murderer, who betrayed himself to the police
when they were really at fault and their want of acuteness was being
made the subject of much caustic criticism. The victim was an aged woman
of eccentric character and extremely parsimonious habits, who lived
entirely alone, only admitting a woman to help her in the housework for
an hour or two every day. She owned a good deal of house property, let
out in tenements to the working classes. As a rule she collected the
rents herself, and was believed to have considerable sums from time to
time in her house. This made her timid; being naturally of a suspicious
nature, she fortified herself inside with closed shutters and locked
doors, never opening to a soul until she had closely scrutinised any
visitor. It called for no particular remark that for several days she
had not issued forth. She was last seen on the evening of the 13th of
August, 1860. When people came to see her on business on the 14th, 15th,
and 16th, she made no response to their loud knockings, but her strange
habits were well known; moreover, the neighbourhood was so densely
inhabited that it was thought impossible she could have been the victim
of foul play.

At last, on the 17th of August, a shoemaker named Emm, whom she
sometimes employed to collect rents at a distance, went to Mrs.
Elmsley's lawyers and expressed his alarm at her non-appearance. The
police were consulted, and decided to break into the house. Its owner
was found lying dead on the floor in a lumber-room at the top of the
house. Life had been extinct for some days, and death had been caused by
blows on the head with a heavy plasterer's hammer. The body lay in a
pool of blood, which had also splashed the walls, and a bloody footprint
was impressed on the floor, pointing outwards from the room. There were
no appearances of forcible entry to the house, and the conclusion was
fair that whoever had done the deed had been admitted by Mrs. Elmsley
herself. A possible clue to the criminal was afforded by the several
rolls of wall-paper lying about near the corpse. Mrs. Elmsley was in the
habit of employing workmen on her own account to carry out repairs and
decorations in her houses, and the indications pointed to her having
been visited by one of these, who had perpetrated the crime. Yet the
police made no useful deductions from these data.

While they were still at fault a man named Mullins, a plasterer by trade
and an ex-member of the Irish constabulary, who knew Mrs. Elmsley well
and had often worked for her, came forward voluntarily to throw some
light on the mystery. Nearly a month had elapsed since the murder, and
he declared that during this period his attention had been drawn to the
man Emm and his suspicious conduct. He had watched him, had frequently
seen him leave his cottage and proceed stealthily to a neighbouring
brickfield, laden on each occasion with a parcel he did not bring back.
Mullins, after giving this information quite unsought, led the police
officers to the spot, and into a ruined outbuilding, where a strict
search was made. Behind a stone slab they discovered a paper parcel
containing articles which were at once identified as part of the
murdered woman's property. Mullins next accompanied the police to Emm's
house, and saw the supposed criminal arrested. But to his utter
amazement the police turned on Mullins and took him also into custody.
Something in his manner had aroused suspicion, and rightly, for
eventually he was convicted and hanged for the crime.


Here Mullins had only himself to thank. Whatever the impulse--that
strange restlessness that often affects the secret murderer, or the
consuming fear that the scent was hot, and his guilt must be discovered
unless he could shift suspicion--it is certain that but for his own act
he would never have been arrested. It may be interesting to complete
this case, and show how further suspicion settled around Mullins. The
parcel found in the brickfield was tied up with a tag end of tape and a
bit of a dirty apron string. A precisely similar piece of tape was
discovered in Mullins's lodgings lying upon the mantelshelf. There was
an inner parcel fastened with waxed cord. The idea with Mullins was, no
doubt, to suggest that the shoemaker Emm had used cobbler's wax. But a
piece of wax was also found in Mullins's possession, besides several
articles belonging to the deceased.

The most conclusive evidence was the production of a plasterer's hammer,
which was also found in Mullins's house. It was examined under the
microscope, and proved to be stained with blood. Mullins had thrown away
an old boot, which chanced to be picked up under the window of a room he
occupied. This boot fitted exactly into the blood-stained footprint on
the floor in Mrs. Elmsley's lumber-room; moreover, two nails protruding
from the sole corresponded with two holes in the board, and, again, a
hole in the middle of the sole was filled up with dried blood. So far as
Emm was concerned, he was able clearly to establish an _alibi_, while
witnesses were produced who swore to having seen Mullins coming across
Stepney Green at dawn on the day of the crime with bulging pockets
stuffed full of something, and going home; he appeared much perturbed,
and trembled all over.

Mullins was found guilty without hesitation, and the judge expressed
himself perfectly satisfied with the verdict. The case was much
discussed in legal circles and in the Press, and all opinions were
unanimously hostile to Mullins. The convict steadfastly denied his guilt
to the last, but left a paper exonerating Emm. It is difficult to
reconcile this with his denunciation of that innocent man, except on the
ground of his own guilty knowledge of the real murderer. In any case, it
was he himself who first lifted the veil and stupidly brought justice
down upon himself.

The case of Mullins was in some points forestalled by the discovery of
an Indian murder, in which the native police ingeniously entrapped the
criminal to assist in his own detection. A man in Kumacu, named Mungloo,
disappeared, and a neighbour, Moosa, was suspected of having made away
with him. The police, unable to bring home the murder to him, caught
him by bringing to him a corpse which they declared was Mungloo's. Moosa
knew better, and said so. Imprudently anxious to shift all suspicion
from himself, he told the police that a certain Kitroo knew where the
real corpse lay, and advised them to arrest him. Kitroo was seized, and
confessed in effect that Mungloo was buried close to his house. The
ground was opened, and at a considerable depth down the body was found.
Now Moosa came forward and claimed the credit, as well as the proffered
reward for discovery. He was, he said, the first to indicate where the
body was hidden. But Kitroo turned Queen's evidence, and swore that he
had seen the murder committed by Moosa and three others, and that, as he
was an eye-witness, he was compelled by them to become an accomplice.
Moosa was sentenced to transportation for life. There was in his case no
necessity to accuse Kitroo, and but for his officiousness the corpse
would never, probably, have been brought to light.


There have, however, been occasions when detection has failed more or
less completely. The police do not admit always that the perpetrators
remain unknown; they have clues, suspicion, strong presumption, even
more, but there is a gap in the evidence forthcoming, and to attempt
prosecution would be to face inevitable defeat. To this day it is held
at Scotland Yard that the real murderer in a mysterious murder in London
in the seventies was discovered, but that the case failed before an
artfully planned _alibi_. Sometimes an arrest is made on grounds that
afford strong _primâ-facie_ evidence, yet the case breaks down in court.
The Burdell murder in 1857, in New York, was one of these. Dr. Burdell
was a wealthy and eccentric dentist, owning a house in Bond Street, the
greater part of which he let out in tenements. One of his tenants was a
Mrs. Cunningham, to whom he became engaged, and whom, according to one
account, he married. In any case, they quarrelled furiously, and Dr.
Burdell warned her that she must leave the house, as he had let her
rooms. Whereupon she told him significantly that he might not live to
sign the agreement. Shortly afterwards he was found murdered, stabbed
with fifteen wounds, and there were all the signs of a violent struggle.
The wounds must

[Illustration: OLD MILLBANK PRISON.]

have been inflicted by a left-handed person, and Mrs. Cunningham was
proved to be left-handed. The facts were strong against her, and she was
arrested, but was acquitted on trial.

It came out long after the mysterious Road (Somerset) murder that the
detectives were absolutely right about it, and that Inspector Whicher,
of Scotland Yard, in fixing the crime on Constance Kent, had worked out
the case with singular acumen. He elicited the motive--her jealousy of
the little brother, one of a second family; he built up the clever
theory of the abstracted nightdress, and obtained what he considered
sufficient proof. It will be remembered that this accusation was
denounced as frivolous and unjust. Mr. Whicher was so overwhelmed with
ridicule that he soon afterwards retired from the force, and died, it
was said, of a broken heart. His failure, as it was called, threw
suspicion upon Mr. Kent, the father of the murdered child, and Gough,
the boy's nurse, and both were apprehended and charged, but the cases
were dismissed. In the end, as all the world knows, Constance Kent, who
had entered an Anglican sisterhood, made full confession to the Rev. Mr.
Wagner, of Brighton, and she was duly convicted of murder. Although
sentence of death was passed, it was commuted, and I had her in my
charge at Millbank for years.

The outside public may think that the identity of that later miscreant,
"Jack the Ripper," was never revealed. So far as absolute knowledge
goes, this is undoubtedly true. But the police, after the last murder,
had brought their investigations to the point of strongly suspecting
several persons, all of them known to be homicidal lunatics, and against
three of these they held very plausible and reasonable grounds of
suspicion. Concerning two of them the case was weak, although it was
based on certain suggestive facts. One was a Polish Jew, a known
lunatic, who was at large in the district of Whitechapel at the time of
the murder, and who, having developed homicidal tendencies, was
afterwards confined in an asylum. This man was said to resemble the
murderer by the one person who got a glimpse of him--the
police-constable in Mitre Court. The second possible criminal was a
Russian doctor, also insane, who had been a convict in both England and
Siberia. This man was in the habit of carrying about surgical knives and
instruments in his pockets; his antecedents were of the very worst, and
at the time of the Whitechapel murders he was in hiding, or, at least,
his whereabouts was never exactly known. The third person was of the
same type, but the suspicion in his case was stronger, and there was
every reason to believe that his own friends entertained grave doubts
about him. He also was a doctor in the prime of life, was believed to be
insane or on the borderland of insanity, and he disappeared immediately
after the last murder, that in Miller's Court, on the 9th of November,
1888. On the last day of that year, seven weeks later, his body was
found floating in the Thames, and was said to have been in the water a
month. The theory in this case was that after his last exploit, which
was the most fiendish of all, his brain entirely gave way, and he became
furiously insane and committed suicide. It is at least a strong
presumption that "Jack the Ripper" died or was put under restraint after
the Miller's Court affair, which ended this series of crimes. It would
be interesting to know whether in this third case the man was
left-handed or ambidextrous, both suggestions having been advanced by
medical experts after viewing the victims. It is true that other doctors
disagreed on this point, which may be said to add another to the many
instances in which medical evidence has been conflicting, not to say

Yet the incontestable fact remains, unsatisfactory and disquieting, that
many murder mysteries have baffled all inquiry, and that the long list
of undiscovered crimes is continually receiving mysterious additions. An
erroneous impression, however, prevails that such failures are more
common in Great Britain than elsewhere. No doubt the British police are
greatly handicapped by the law's limitations, which in England always
act in protecting the accused. But with all their advantages, the power
to make arrests on suspicion, to interrogate the accused parties and
force on self-incrimination, the Continental police meet with many
rebuffs. Numbers of cases are "classed," as it is officially called in
Paris--that is, pigeon-holed for ever and a day, lacking sufficient
proofs for trial, and in some instances, indeed, there is no clue
whatever. In every country, and in all times, past and present, there
have been crimes that defied detection.

Feuerbach, in his record of criminal trials in Bavaria, tells, for
example, of the unsolved murder mystery of one Rupprecht, a notorious
usurer of Munich, who was killed in 1817 in the doorway of a public
tavern not fifty yards from his own residence. Yet his murderer was
never discovered. The tavern was called the "hell"; it was a place of
evil resort, for Rupprecht, a mean, parsimonious old curmudgeon, was
fond of low company and spent most of his nights here, swallowing beer
and cracking jokes with his friends. One night the landlord, returning
from his cellar, heard a voice in the street asking for Rupprecht, and,
going up to the drinking saloon, conveyed the message. Rupprecht went
down to see his visitor and never returned. Within a minute deep groans
were heard as of a person in a fit or in extreme pain. All rushed
downstairs and found the old man lying in a pool of blood just inside
the front door. There was a gaping wound in his head, but he was not
unconscious, and kept repeating, "Wicked rogue! wicked villain! the axe!
the axe!"


The wound had been inflicted by some sharp instrument, possibly a sword
or sabre, wielded by a powerful hand. The victim must have been taken
unawares, when his back was turned. The theory constructed by the police
was that the murderer had waited within the porch out of sight, standing
on a stone bench in a dark corner near the street door; that Rupprecht,
finding no one to explain the summons, had looked out into the street
and then had made to go back into the house. After he had turned the
blow was struck. Thus not a scrap of a clue was left on the theatre of
the crime. But Rupprecht was still alive and able to answer simple
questions. A judge was summoned to interrogate him, and asked, "Who
struck you?" "Schmidt," replied Rupprecht. "Which Schmidt?" "Schmidt the
woodcutter." Further inquiries elicited statements that Schmidt had used
a hatchet, that he lived in the Most, that they had quarrelled some time
before. Rupprecht said he had recognised his assailant, and he went on
muttering, "Schmidt, Schmidt, woodcutter, axe." To find Schmidt was
naturally the first business of the police. The name was as common as
Smith is with us, and many Schmidts were woodcutters. Three Schmidts
were suspected. One was a known confederate of thieves; another had been
intimate, but afterwards was on bad terms, with Rupprecht: this was "Big
Schmidt"; the third, his brother, "Little Schmidt," also knew Rupprecht.
All three, although none lived in the Most, were arrested and confronted
with Rupprecht, but he recognised none of them; and he died next day,
having become speechless and unconscious at the last. Only the first
Schmidt seemed guilty; he was much agitated when interrogated, he
contradicted himself, and could give no good account of the employment
of his time when the offence was committed. Moreover, he had a hatchet;
it was examined and spots were found upon it, undoubtedly of blood. He
was brought into the presence of the dead Rupprecht, and was greatly
overcome with terror and agitation.

Yet after the first accusation he offered good rebutting evidence. He
explained the stain by saying he had a chapped hand which bled, and when
it was pointed out that this was the right hand, which would be at the
other end of the axe shaft, he was able in reply to prove that he was
left-handed. Again, the wound in the head was considerably longer than
the blade of the axe, and an axe cannot be drawn along after the blow.
The murderer's cries had been heard by the landlord, inquiring for
Rupprecht, but it was not Schmidt's voice. There was an _alibi_,
moreover, or as good as one. Schmidt was at his mother-in-law's, and
was known to have gone home a little before the murder; soon after it,
his wife found him in bed and asleep. If he had committed the crime he
must have jumped out of bed again almost at once, run more than a mile,
wounded Rupprecht, returned, gone back to bed and to sleep, all in less
than an hour. Further, it was shown by trustworthy evidence that this
Schmidt knew nothing of the murder after it had occurred.

The police drew blank also with "Big Schmidt" and "Little Schmidt,"
neither of whom had left home on the night of the murder. They were no
more successful with other Schmidts, although every one of the name was
examined, and it was now realised that the last delirious words of the
dying man had led them astray. But while hunting up the Schmidts it was
not forgotten by the police that Rupprecht had also cried out, "My
daughter! my daughter!" after he had been struck down. This might have
been from the desire to see her in his last moments. On the other hand,
he was estranged from this daughter, and he positively hated his
son-in-law. They were no doubt a cold-blooded pair, these Bieringers, as
they were called. The daughter showed little emotion when she heard her
father had been mortally wounded; she looked at him as he lay without
emotion, and had so little lost her appetite that she devoured a whole
basin of soup in the house. It was suspicious, too, that she tried to
fix the guilt on "Big Schmidt." Bieringer was a man of superior station,
well bred and well educated; and he lived on very bad terms with his
wife, who was coarse, vulgar, and of violent temper like her father; and
once at his instance she was imprisoned for forty-eight hours. Rupprecht
sided with his daughter, and openly declared that in leaving her his
money he would tie it up so tightly that Bieringer could not touch a
penny. This he had said openly, and it was twisted into a motive why
Bieringer should remove him before he could make such a will. But a
sufficient _alibi_ was proved by Bieringer; his time was accounted for
satisfactorily on the night of the murder. The daughter was absolved
from guilt, for even if she, a woman, could have struck so shrewd a
blow, it was not to her interest to kill a father who sided with her
against her husband and was on the point of making a will in her favour.

Other arrests were made, Rupprecht's maid reported that three troopers
belonging to the regiment in garrison had called on her master the very
day of the murder; one of them owed him money which he could not pay,
and the others, it was thought, had joined him in trying to intimidate
the usurer. But the case of these troopers, men who could handle the
very weapon that did the deed, broke down on clear proof that they were
elsewhere at the time of the murder. The one flaw in the otherwise acute
investigation was that the sabres of all the troopers had not been
examined before so much noise had been made about the murder. But from
the first attention had been concentrated on axes, wielded by
woodcutters, and the probable use of a sabre had been overlooked. After
the troopers, two other callers had come, and Rupprecht had given them a
secret interview. One proved to be the regimental master-tailor, who was
seeking a loan and had brought with him a witness to the transaction.
Their innocence also was clearly proved; and although many other persons
were arrested they were in all cases discharged.

[Illustration: "HER BODY ... WAS FOUND IN THE WATER" (p. 40).]

The murder of this Rupprecht has remained a mystery. The only plausible
suggestion was that he had been murdered by some aggrieved person, some
would-be borrower whom he had rejected, or some debtor who could not pay
and thought this the simplest way of clearing his obligation. The
authorities could not fix this on anyone, for Rupprecht made no record
of his transactions; he could neither read nor write, and kept all his
accounts "in his head." Only on rare occasions did he call in a
confidential friend to look through his papers when there was question
of arranging them or finding a note of hand. No one but Rupprecht
himself could have afforded the proper clue; and, as it was, he had led
the police in the wrong direction.

Numerous murder mysteries have been contributed by American criminal
records. Special interest attaches to the case of Mary Rogers, "the
pretty cigar seller" of New York, who was done to death by persons
unknown in 1840, because it formed the basis of Edgar Allan Poe's famous
story, "The Mystery of Marie Roget." The scene of that story is Paris,
but the murder was actually committed near New York. Mary Rogers had
many admirers, but her character was good, her conduct seemingly
irreproachable. She was supposed to have spent her last Sunday with
friends, but was seen with a single companion late that afternoon at a
little restaurant near Hoboken. As she never returned home her
disappearance caused much excitement, but at length her body, much
maltreated, was found in the water near Sybil's Cave, Hoboken. Many
arrests were made, but the crime was never brought home to anyone.

Poe's suggested solution, the jealous rage of an old lover returned from
sea, was no more than ingenious fiction. Among others upon whom
suspicion fell was John Anderson, the cigar merchant in whose employ
Mary Rogers was, and it was encouraged by his flight after the discovery
of the murder. But when arrested and brought back, he adduced what was
deemed satisfactory proof of an _alibi_. Anderson lived to amass
enormous wealth, and about the time of his death in Paris in 1881 the
evil reports of his complicity in the murder were revived, but nothing
new transpired. It was said that in his later years Anderson became an
ardent spiritualist, and that the murdered Mary Rogers was one among the
many spirits he communed with.

The murder of Mary Rogers was not the only unsolved mystery of its class
beyond the Atlantic. It was long antedated by that known as the
Manhattan Well Mystery. This murder occurred as far back as 1799, when
New York was little more than a village compared to its present size.
The Manhattan Company, now a bank, had then the privilege of supplying
the city with water. The well stood in an open field, and all
passers-by had free access to it. One day the pretty niece of a
respectable Quaker disappeared; she had left her home, it was said, to
be privately married, and nothing more was seen of her till she was
fished out of the Manhattan well. Some thought she had committed
suicide, but articles of her dress were found at a distance from the
well, including her shoes, none of which she was likely to have removed
and left there before drowning herself. Her muff, moreover, was found in
the water; why should she have retained that to the last? Suspicion
rested upon the man whom she was to have married, and who had called for
her in his sleigh after she had already left the house. This man was
tried for his life, but the case broke down, and the murder has always
baffled detection.

Later, in 1830, there was the mystery of Sarah M. Cornell, in which
suspicion fell upon a reverend gentleman of the Methodist persuasion,
who was acquitted. Again, in 1836, there was the murder of Helen Jewitt,
which was never cleared up; and more recently that of the Ryans, brother
and sister; while the murder of Annie Downey, commonly called "Curly
Tom," a New York flower-girl, recalls many of the circumstances of the
murders in Whitechapel.

A great crime that altogether baffled the New York police occurred in
1870, and is still remembered as an extraordinary mystery. It was the
murder of a wealthy Jew named Nathan, in his own house in Twenty-third
Street. He had come up from the country in July for a religious
ceremony, and slept at home. His two sons, who were in business, also
lived in the Twenty-third Street house. The only other occupant was a
housekeeper. The sons, returning late, one after the other, looked in on
their father and found him sleeping peacefully. No noise disturbed the
house during the night, but early next morning Mr. Nathan was found a
shapeless mass upon the floor; he had been killed with brutal violence,
and the weapon used, a ship carpenter's "dog," was lying close by the
body besmeared with blood and grey hairs. The dead man's pockets had
been rifled, and all his money and jewellery were gone; a safe that
stood in the corner of the bedroom had been forced and its contents

Various theories were started, but none led to the track of the
criminal. One of Mr. Nathan's sons was suspected, but his innocence was
clearly proved. Another person thought to be guilty was the son of the
resident housekeeper, but that supposition also fell to the ground. Some
of the police were of opinion that it was the work of an ordinary
burglar; others opposed this view, on the ground that the ship
carpenter's "dog" was not a housebreaking tool. One ingenious solution
was offered, and it may be commended to the romantic novelist; it was to
the effect that Mr. Nathan held certain documents gravely compromising
the character of a person with whom he had had business dealings, and
that this person had planned and executed the murder in order to become
repossessed of them. This theory had no definite support from known
fact; but Mr. Nathan was a close, secretive man, who kept all the
threads of his financial affairs in his own hands; and it was said that
no one in his family, not even his wife, was aware what his safe held or
what he carried in his pockets. It is worth noticing that this last
theory resembles very closely the explanation suggested as a solution of
the undiscovered murder of Rupprecht in Bavaria, which has been already

There are one or two striking cases in the records of Indian crime of
murders that have remained undiscovered. Mr. Arthur Crawfurd[3]
describes that of an old Marwari money-lender, which repeats in some
particulars the cases of Rupprecht and Nathan. This usurer was reputed
to be very wealthy. His business was extensive, all his neighbours were
more or less in his debt, and, as he was a hard, unrelenting creditor,
he was generally detested throughout the district.

He lived in a mud-built house all on the ground floor. In front was the
shop where he received his clients, and in this room, visible from the
roadway, was a vast deed-box in which he kept papers, bills, notes of
hand, but never money. When he had agreed to make a loan and all
formalities were completed, he brought the cash from a secret receptacle
in an inner chamber. In this, his strong room, so to speak, which
occupied one corner at the back of the house, he slept. In the opposite
angle lived his granddaughter, a young widow, who kept house for him. He
was protected by a guard of two men in his pay, who slept in an outhouse
close by.

One night the granddaughter, disturbed by a strange noise in the old
man's sleeping place, rose, lit a lamp, and was on the point of entering
the bedroom when the usurer appeared at the door, bleeding profusely
from his mouth and nostrils; his eyes protruded hideously; he was
clearly in the last extremity, and fell almost at once to the ground.
The granddaughter summoned the watchmen, who only arrived in time to
hear a few last inarticulate sounds as their master expired. It was seen
afterwards at the _post-mortem_ that he had been partially smothered,
and subjected to great violence. His assailant must have knelt on him
heavily, for the ribs were nearly all fractured and had been forced into
the lungs.

The police arrived in all haste and made a thorough search of the
premises. It was soon seen that a hole had been made from outside
through the mud wall close by the old man's bed. The orifice was just
large enough to admit a man. There were no traces of any struggle save
the blood, which had flowed freely and inundated the mattress. Strange
to say, there had been no robbery. The money-lender's treasure chamber
was still secure, the lock intact, and all the money and valuables were
found untouched: many bags of rupees, a tin case crammed with currency
notes, and a package containing a considerable quantity of valuable
jewellery. Nor had the deed-box in the shop been interfered with.

The perpetrators of this murder were never discovered. The police,
hoping to entrap them in the not uncommon event of a return to the
theatre of the crime, established themselves secretly inside the house,
but not in the bedroom where the murder was accomplished. They were
right in their surmise, but the design failed utterly through their
culpable neglect. The bedroom, within a fortnight, was again entered,
and in precisely the same way, while the careless watchers slept
unconscious in the adjoining shop. The fair inference was that the
murderers had returned hoping to lay hands on some of the booty which
they had previously missed. But the old man's treasure had been removed,
and they went away disappointed and empty-handed, though unfortunately
they escaped capture.

The same authority, Mr. Arthur Crawfurd, gives another case that belongs
to the class of the New York murder of Mary Rogers

[Illustration: _Photo: Kapp & Co., Calcutta._


and our own Whitechapel murders. The body of a female was washed ashore
upon the rocks below the foot of Severndroog, in the South Konkan
district. The fact was reported to Mr. Crawfurd, who found the body of a
fine healthy young Mahomedan woman, who had not been dead for more than
a couple of hours. The only injury to be seen was a severe extended
wound upon one temple, which must have bled profusely, but was not,
according to the medical evidence, sufficient to cause death. It seemed
probable that she had been stunned by it and had fallen in the water, to
be drowned, or that she had been thrown from the cliffs above on to the
rocks, and, becoming unconscious, had slipped into the sea. She had, in
fact, been seen crossing the cliffs on the morning of her death, and was
easily recognised as the wife of a fisherman who lived in a village hard
by, the port of which was filled with small craft that worked coastwise
with goods and passengers, the only traffic of those days.

The only arrests made were those of two Europeans, soldiers, one an army
schoolmaster on his way up coast to Bombay, the other a sergeant about
to be pensioned; and both had been travelling by a coast boat which was
windbound a little below the fort. They had been landed in order to take
a little exercise, and had been forthwith stopped by a crowd of
suspicious natives, who charged them with the crime. Yet on examination
no blood stains were found upon their clothes, and nothing indicative of
a struggle; moreover, it was soon clearly proved that they had not been
put ashore till 10 a.m., whereas the dead body had been picked up before
8 a.m. Further inquiry showed that they were men of estimable character.
But nothing else was elucidated beyond a vague report that the woman's
husband had reason, or believed himself to have reason, to accuse her of
profligacy and had taken this revenge.

Another more recent Indian murder went near to being classed with the
undiscovered. That it was brought home to its perpetrators was due to
the keen intelligence of a native detective officer, the Sirdar Mir
Abdul Ali, of the Bombay police. This clever detective, of whom a
biography has appeared, belonged to the Bombay police, and his many
successes show how much the Indian police has improved of late years.
The murder was known as the Parel case. On the morning of the 24th of
November, 1887, a deal box was picked up on a piece of open marsh close
to the Elphinstone Station at Parel. Near it was an ordinary
counterpane. It was at first supposed that the box had been stolen from
the railway station, and the matter was reported to the police. An
officer soon reached the spot, and ascertained that the box, from which
an offensive smell issued, was locked and fastened. On breaking it open
the remains of a woman were found within, coiled up and jammed in
tightly, and in an advanced stage of decomposition. The face was so much
battered that its features were unrecognisable, but the dress, that of a
Mahomedan, might, it was hoped, lead to identification. According to
custom, the police gathered in thousands of people by beat of _battaki_,
or drum, but no one who viewed the corpse could recognise the clothes.
Moreover, there was no woman reported missing at the time from any house
in Bombay.

Abdul Ali shrewdly surmised either that the woman was a perfect stranger
or that she had been murdered at a distance, and the box containing her
remains had been brought into Bombay to be disposed of without
attracting attention. This box furnished the clue. Abdul Ali, following
out his idea of the stranger visitor, had caused search to be made
through the "rest houses," or _musafarkhanas_ of Bombay, and in one of
these the box was identified as the property of a Pathan, named Syed
Gool, who had but recently married an unknown young woman and had
apparently deserted her. At least, it came out that he had suddenly
taken ship for Aden, and had been accompanied by his daughter and a
friend, but not by his wife. Moreover, witnesses were now prepared to
swear that the clothes found on the corpse at Parel much resembled those
commonly worn by Syed Gool's young wife. The evidence was little more
than presumptive, but the head of the Bombay police persuaded the
Governor to telegraph to the Resident of Aden to look out for the three
passengers and arrest them on landing. They were accordingly taken into
custody and sent back to Bombay.

Even now the case would have been incomplete but for the confession of
one of the parties--Syed Gool's friend, who was known as Noor Mahomed.
This man, a confederate, on arrival at Bombay, made a clean breast of
the crime and was admitted as an approver; but for that the offence
might never have been brought home. Syed Gool, it appeared, had come
from Karachi only a little before, had put up at the _musafarkhana_ of
one Ismail Habib in Pakmodia Street, where he had presently married one
Sherif Khatum, whom he met in this same "rest house," and the whole
party had taken up their residence in another house in the same street.
Noor Mahomed went on to say that husband and wife soon quarrelled as to
the possession of the latter's jewels, and their differences so
increased in bitterness that Syed Gool resolved to murder the woman. He
effected his purpose, assisted by his friend, using a pair of long iron
pincers, with which he compressed her windpipe till she died of
suffocation. The rest of the crime followed a not unusual course: the
packing of the corpse in a wooden box which had been made to Syed Gool's
order by a carpenter, and its removal in a bullock cart to the
neighbourhood of the Elphinstone Station, where the murderers hired a
man to watch it for a few pence during their temporary absence. But they
had no intention of returning; indeed, they embarked at once on board
the Aden steamer, and the man left in charge of the box took it home
with him, where it remained till he was alarmed by the offensive smell
already mentioned. Then he prudently resolved to get rid of it by
removing it to the spot on which it was found.[4]


The tale of undiscovered murders can never be ended, and additions are
made to it continually. In this country fresh cases crop up year after
year, and it would take volumes to catalogue them all. I will mention
but one or two more, merely to point the moral that the police are often
at fault still, even in these latter days of enlightened research, where
so much makes in favour of the law. Thus the Burton Crescent murder, in
December, 1878, must always be remembered against the police. An aged
widow, named Samuel, lived at a house in Burton Crescent, but she kept
no servant on the premises, and took in a lodger, although she was of
independent means. The lodger was a musician in a theatrical orchestra,
away most of the day, returning late to supper. One evening there was no
supper and no Mrs. Samuel, but on making search he found her dead body
in the kitchen, lying in a pool of blood. The police summoned a doctor
to view the corpse, and it was found that Mrs. Samuel had been battered
to death with the fragment of a hat-rail in which many pegs still
remained. The pocket of her dress had been cut off, and a pair of boots
was missing, but no other property. Nothing could have happened till
late in the afternoon, as three workmen, against whom there was
apparently no suspicion, were in the house till then, and the maid who
assisted in the household duties had left Mrs. Samuel alive and well at
4 p.m. Only one arrest was made, that of a woman, one Mary Donovan, who
was frequently remanded on the application of the police, but against
whom no sufficient evidence was forthcoming to warrant her committal for
trial. The Burton Crescent murder has remained a mystery to this day.

So has that of Lieutenant Roper, R.E., who was murdered at Chatham on
the 11th of February, 1881. This young officer, who was going through
the course of military engineering, was found lying dead at the bottom
of the staircase leading to his quarters in Brompton Barracks. He had
been shot with a revolver, and the weapon, six-chambered, was picked up
at a short distance from the body, one shot discharged, the remaining
five barrels still loaded with ball cartridges. The only presumption was
that the murderer's object was plunder, personal robbery. Mr. Roper had
left the mess at an earlier hour than usual, between 8 and 9 p.m., on
the plea that he had letters to write home announcing his approaching
arrival on short leave of absence. A brother officer accompanied him
part of the way to Brompton Barracks, but left him to attend some
entertainment, Roper declining to go at once, for the reason given, but
promising to join him later.

The unfortunate officer was quite unconscious when found, and although
he survived some forty minutes, he never recovered the power of speech,
so that he could give no indication as to his assailant. A poker
belonging to Mr. Roper was found by his side, and it was inferred that
he had entered his room before the attack, and had seized the poker as
the only instrument of self-defence within reach. Not the slightest clue
was ever obtained which would help to solve this mystery; rewards were
offered, but in vain, and the police had at last to confess themselves
entirely baffled. Mr. Roper was an exceedingly promising young officer;
he had but just completed his course of instruction with considerable
credit, and he was said to have been in perfect health and spirits on
the fatal evening, so that there was nothing whatever to support, and
indeed everything to discredit, any theory of suicide.


Taking a general view of the case as between hunted and hunters, it may
be fairly considered that the ultimate advantage is with the latter. Let
it be remembered that we hear more of one instance of failure on the
part of the police than of ninety-nine successes. The failure is
proclaimed trumpet-tongued, the successes pass almost unnoticed into the
great garner of criminal reports and judicial or police statistics.

At the very least it must be said that we are bound, in common justice,
to give due credit to the ceaseless activity, the continual, painstaking
effort of the guardians of the public weal. Their methods are the
outcome of long and patient experience, developed and improved as time
passes, and they have deserved, if not always commanded, success. It may
be that the ordinary detective works a little too openly--at least, in
this country; that his face and, till lately, his boots were well known
in the circles generally frequented by his prey. Again, there may be at
times slackness in pursuit, neglect or oversight of early clues.
Well-meaning but obstinate men will not keep a perfectly open mind: they
may cling too long and too closely to a first theory, wresting their
opinions and forcing acquired facts to fit this theory, and so travel
farther and farther along the wrong road. "Shadowing" suspected persons
does not always answer, and may be carried too far; more, it may be so
clumsily done as to put the quarry on his guard and altogether defeat
the object in view. But to lay overmuch stress on such shortcomings as
these would surely savour of hypercriticism. It is more just to accept
with gratitude the overwhelming balance in favour of the police, and
give them the credit due to them for the results achieved.


Part II.




     Judge Cambo, of Malta--The D'Anglades--The Murder of Lady
     Mazel--Execution of William Shaw for the Murder of his
     Daughter--The Sailmaker of Deal and the alleged Murder of a
     Boatswain--Brunell the Innkeeper--Du Moulin, the Victim of a Gang
     of Coiners--The Famous Calas Case at Toulouse--Gross Perversion of
     Justice at Nuremberg--The Blue Dragoon.

The criminal annals of all countries record cases of innocent persons
condemned by judicial process on grounds that seemed sufficient at the
time, but that ultimately proved mistaken. Where circumstantial evidence
is alone forthcoming, terrible errors have been committed, and when,
later, new facts are brought to light, the mischief has been done. There
is a family likeness in these causes of judicial mistake: strong
personal resemblance between the real criminal and another; strangely
suspicious facts confirming a first strong conjecture, such as the
suspected person having been near the scene of the crime, having let
drop incautious words, being found with articles the possession of which
has been misinterpreted or has given a wrong impression. Often a sudden
accusation has produced confusion, and consequently a strong presumption
of guilt. Or the accused, although perfectly innocent, has been weak
enough to invent a false defence, as in the case quoted by Sir Edward
Coke of a man charged with killing his niece. The accused put forward
another niece in place of the victim to show that the alleged murder had
never taken place. The trick was discovered, his guilt was assumed, and
he paid the penalty with his life. On the other hand, the deliberate
cunning of the real criminal has succeeded but too often in shifting the
blame with every appearance of probability upon other shoulders.


A curious old story of judicial murder, caused by the infatuation of a
judge, is to be found in the annals of Malta, when under the Knights,
early in the eighteenth century. This judge, Cambo by name, rising early
one morning, heard an affray in the street, just under his window.
Looking out, he saw one man stab another. The wounded man, who had been
flying for his life, reeled and fell. At this moment the assassin's cap
came off, and his face was for a moment fully exposed to the judge
above. Then, quickly picking up the cap, he ran on, throwing away the
sheath of his knife, and, turning into another street, disappeared.

While still doubtful how he should act, the judge now saw a baker,
carrying his loaves for distribution, approach the scene of the murder.
Before he reached the place where the corpse lay, he saw the sheath of
the stiletto, picked it up, and put it into his pocket. Walking on, he
came next upon the corpse. Terrified at the sight, and losing all
self-control, he ran and hid himself lest he should be charged with the
crime. But at that moment a police patrol entered the street, and saw
him disappearing just as they came upon the body of the murdered man.
They naturally concluded that the fugitive was the criminal, and made
close search for him. When they presently caught him, they found him
confused and incoherent, a prey to misgiving at the suspicious position
in which he found himself. He was searched, and the sheath of the
stiletto was discovered in his pocket. When tried, it was found that the
sheath exactly fitted the knife lying by the side of the corpse. The
baker was accordingly taken into custody and carried off to prison.

All this went on under the eyes of the judge, yet he did not interpose
to protect an innocent man. The police came and reported both murder and
arrest; still he said nothing. He was at the time the presiding judge in
the criminal court, and it was before him that the wretched baker was
eventually tried. Cambo was a dull, stupid person, and he now conceived
that he was forbidden to act from his own private knowledge in the
matter brought before him--that he must deal with the case according to

(p. 52).]

the evidence of the witnesses. So he sat on the Bench to hear the
circumstantial proofs against a man who he had no sort of doubt was
actually innocent. When he saw that the evidence was insufficient,
amounting to no more than _semi prova_, half-proof, according to Maltese
law, he used every endeavour to make the accused confess his crime.
Failing in this, he ordered the baker to be "put to the question," with
the result that the man, under torture, confessed to what he had not
done. Cambo was now perfectly satisfied; the accused, innocent in fact,
was guilty according to law, and having thus satisfied himself that his
procedure was right, he carried his strange logic to the end, and
sentenced the baker to death. "Horrible to relate," says the old
chronicle, "the hapless wretch soon after underwent the sentence of the


The sad truth came out at last, when the real murderer, having been
convicted and condemned for another crime, confessed that he was guilty
of the murder for which the baker had wrongly suffered. He appealed to
Judge Cambo himself to verify this statement, for he knew that the judge
had seen him. The Grand Master of the Knights of Malta now called upon
Judge Cambo to defend himself from this grave imputation. Cambo freely
admitted his action, but still held that he had only done his duty, that
he was really right in sending an innocent man to an ignominious death
sooner than do violence to his own legal scruples. The Grand Master was
of a more liberal mind, and condemned the judge to degradation and the
forfeiture of his office, ordering him at the same time to provide
handsomely for the family of his victim.


A very flagrant judicial error was committed in Paris towards the latter
end of the same century, mainly through the obstinate persistence of the
Lieutenant-General of Police in believing that he had discovered the
real perpetrators of a theft. Circumstantial evidence was accepted as
conclusive proof in spite of the unblemished character and the high
social position of the accused.


The Marquis d'Anglade and his wife lived in the same house with the
Comte and Comtesse de Montgomerie; it was in the Rue Royale, the best
quarter in Paris, and both kept good establishments. The Montgomeries
were the more affluent, had many servants, and a stable full of horses
and carriages. D'Anglade also kept a carriage, but his income was said
to be greatly dependent upon his winnings at the gaming table. The two
families were on terms of very friendly intercourse, frequently visited,
and accepted each other's hospitality. When the Comte and Comtesse went
to their country house, the D'Anglades often accompanied them.


(_From a Drawing by Moanet._)]

It was to have been so on one occasion, but at the eleventh hour the
Marquis d'Anglade begged to be excused on the score of his wife's
indisposition. The Montgomeries went alone, but took most of their
servants with them. When they returned to Paris, a day earlier than they
were expected, they found the door of their apartments open, although it
had been locked when they left. A little later D'Anglade came in. Having
been supping with other friends, and hearing that the Montgomeries were
in the house, he went in to pay his respects. Madame d'Anglade joined
him, and the party did not break up till a late hour. There was no
suspicion of anything wrong then.

Next morning, however, the Comte de Montgomerie discovered that he had
been the victim of a great robbery. His strong box had been opened by a
false key, and thirteen bags of silver, amounting to 13,000 francs, and
11,000 francs in gold, had been abstracted, also a hundred louis d'or
coined in a new pattern, and a valuable pearl necklace. The police were
summoned, and their chief, the Lieutenant-General, declared that someone
resident in the house must be the thief. Suspicion seems to have
attached at once to the D'Anglades, although they readily offered to
allow their premises to be searched. The search was forthwith made, and
the whole of their boxes, the beds and cupboards, and all receptacles in
the rooms they occupied, were thoroughly ransacked. Only the garrets
remained, and D'Anglade willingly accompanied the officers thither. His
wife, being ill and weak, remained downstairs.

Here, in the garret, the searchers came upon seventy-five louis d'or of
the kind above mentioned, wrapped in a scrap of printed paper part of a
genealogical table, which Montgomerie at once identified as his. The
police now wished to fix the robbery on the D'Anglades, and their
suspicions were strengthened by the poor man's confusion when desired,
as a test, to count out the money before them all. He was trembling, a
further symptom of guilt. However, when the basement was next examined,
the part occupied by the Montgomerie servants, evidence much more
incriminatory was obtained against the latter. In the room where they
slept, five of the missing bags of silver were found, all full, and a
sixth nearly so. None of these servants was questioned, yet they were as
likely to be guilty as the accused, more so indeed. But the police
thought only of arresting the D'Anglades, one of whom was imprisoned in
the Châtelet, the other in the Fors l'Evêque prison.

The prosecution was of the most rancorous and pitiless kind. Those who
sat in the seat of justice prejudiced the case in D'Anglade's disfavour,
and, as he still protested his innocence, ordered him to suffer torture
so as to extort confession. He remained obdurate to the last, was
presently found guilty, although on this incomplete evidence, and was
sentenced to the galleys for life, and his wife to be banished from
Paris, with other penalties and disabilities. D'Anglade was condemned to
join the _chaîne_, the gang of convicts drafted to Toulon, and, having
suffered inconceivably on the road, he died of exhaustion at Marseilles.
His wife was consigned to an underground dungeon, where she was confined
of a girl, and both would have succumbed to the rigours of their
imprisonment, when suddenly the truth came out, and they were released
in time to escape death.

An anonymous letter reached a friend of the D'Anglades, coming from a
man who was about to turn monk, being torn by remorse, which gave him no
rest. This man had been one of several confederates, and he declared
that he knew the chief agent in the theft to have been the Comte de
Montgomerie's almoner, a priest called Gaynard, who had stolen the
money, aided by accomplices, mainly by one Belestre, who, from being in
great indigence, had come to be suddenly and mysteriously rich. Gaynard
and Belestre were both already in custody for a street brawl, and when
interrogated they confessed. Gaynard had given impressions of the
Comte's keys to Belestre, who had had false keys manufactured which
opened the strong box. Belestre was also proved to be in possession of a
fine pearl necklace.

The true criminals were now examined and subjected to torture, when they
completely exonerated D'Anglade. The innocent marquis could not be
recalled to life, but a large sum was subscribed, some £4,000, for his
wife, as a slight compensation for the gross injustice done her. The
Comte de Montgomerie was also ordered to make restitution of the
property confiscated, or to pay its equivalent in money.


One of the earliest of grave judicial blunders to be found in French
records is commonly called the case of Lady Mazel, who was a lady of
rank, living in a large mansion, of which she occupied two floors
herself: the ground floor as reception-rooms, the first floor as her
bedroom and private apartments. The principal door of her bedroom shut
from the inside with a spring, and when the lady retired for the night
there was no access from without, except by a special key which was
always left on a chair _within_ the chamber. Two other doors of her room
opened upon a back staircase, but these were kept constantly locked. On
the second floor was lodged the family chaplain only; above, on the
third floor, were the servants.'

One Sunday evening the mistress supped with the abbé as was her general
practice; then went to her bedroom, where she was attended by her
waiting-maids. Her butler, by name Le Brun, came to take her orders for
the following day, and then, when the maids withdrew, leaving the key on
the chair inside as usual, he also went away, shutting the spring door
behind him.

Next morning there was no sign of movement from the lady, not at seven
a.m. (her time for waking), nor yet at eight--she was still silent, and
had not summoned her servants. Le Brun, the butler, and the maids began
to be uneasy, and at last the son of the house, who was married and
lived elsewhere, was called in. He expressed his fears that his mother
was ill, or that worse had happened, and a locksmith was called in, and
the door presently broken open.


Le Brun was the first to enter, and he ran at once to the bedside.
Drawing aside the curtains, he saw a sight which made him cry aloud, "My
mistress has been murdered!" and this exclamation was followed by an act
that afterwards went against him. He opened the wardrobe and took out
the strong box. "It is heavy," he said; "at any rate there has been no
robbery." The murder had been committed with horrible violence. The poor
woman had fought hard for life; her hands were all cut and lacerated,
and there were quite fifty wounds on her body. A clasp knife, much
discoloured, was found in the ashes of the fire. Among the bedclothes
they picked up a piece of a coarse lace cravat, and a napkin bearing the
family crest, twisted into a nightcap. The key of the bedroom door,
which had been laid on the chair, had disappeared. Nothing much had been
stolen. The jewels were untouched, but the strong box had been opened
and some of the gold abstracted.

Suspicion fell at once upon the butler, Le Brun. The story he told was
against himself. He said that after leaving his mistress he went down
into the kitchen and fell asleep there. When he awoke he found, to his
surprise, the street-door wide open. He shut it, locked it, and went to
his own bed. In the morning he did his work as usual until the alarm was
given; went to market, called to see his wife, who lived near by, and
asked her to lock up some money, gold crowns and louis d'or, for him.
This was all he had to tell, but on searching him a key was found in his
pocket: a false or skeleton key, the wards of which had been newly
filed, and it fitted nearly all the locks in the house, including the
street-door, the antechamber, and the back door of the lady's bedroom.
The napkin nightcap was tried on his head and fitted him exactly. He was
arrested and shortly afterwards put upon his trial.

It was not alleged that he had committed the murder himself. No blood
had been found on any of his clothes, although there were scratches on
his person. A shirt much stained with blood had been discovered in the
loft, but it did not fit Le Brun, nor was it like any he owned. Nor did
the scrap of coarse lace correspond with any of his cravats; on the
contrary, a maid-servant stated that she thought she recognised it as
belonging to one she had washed for Berry, once a footman in the house.
The supposition was that Le Brun had let some accomplice into the house,
who had escaped after effecting his purpose. This was borne out by the
state of the doors, which showed no signs of having been forced, and by
the discovery of Le Brun's false key.

Le Brun was a man of exemplary character, who had served the family
faithfully for twenty-nine years, and was "esteemed a good husband, a
good father, and a good servant," yet the prosecution seemed satisfied
he was guilty and put him to the torture. In the absence of real proofs
it was hoped, after the cruel custom of the time, to force
self-condemnatory admissions from the accused. The "question
extraordinary" was applied, and the wretched man died on the rack,
protesting his innocence to the last.

[Illustration: THE TORTURE OF THE RACK.]

A month later the real culprit was discovered. The police of Sens had
arrested a horse-dealer named Berry, the man who had been in Lady
Mazel's service as a lackey, but had been discharged. In his possession
was a gold watch proved presently to have belonged to the murdered
woman. He was carried to Paris, where he was recognised by someone who
had seen him leaving Lady Mazel's house on the night she was murdered,
and a barber who shaved him next morning deposed to having seen that his
hands were much scratched. Berry said that he had been killing a cat.
Put to the torture prior to being broken on the wheel, he made full
confession. At first he implicated the son and daughter-in-law of Lady
Mazel, but when at the point of death he retracted the charge, and said
that he had returned to the house with the full intention of committing
the murder. He had crept in unperceived on the Friday evening, had
gained the loft on the fourth floor, and had lain there concealed until
Sunday morning, subsisting the while on apples and bread. When he knew
the mistress had gone to mass he stole down into her bedroom, where he
tried to conceal himself under the bed. It was too low, and he returned
to the garret and slipped off his coat and waistcoat, and found now that
he could creep under the bed. His hat was in his way, so he made a cap
of the napkin. He lay hidden till night, then came out, and having
secured the bell ropes, he roused the lady and demanded her money. She
resisted bravely, and he stabbed her repeatedly until she was dead. Then
he took the key of the strong box, opened it, and stole all the gold he
could find; after which, using the bedroom key which lay on the chair by
the door, he let himself out, resumed his clothes in the loft, and
walked downstairs. As the street-door was only bolted he easily opened
it, leaving it open behind him. He had meant to escape by a rope ladder
which he had brought for the purpose of letting himself down from the
first floor, but it was unnecessary.

It may be remarked that this confession was not inconsistent with Le
Brun's complicity. But it is to be presumed that Berry would have
brought in Le Brun had he been a confederate, even although it could not
have lessened his own guilt or punishment.


In Britain the list of judicial blunders includes the case of William
Shaw, convicted of the murder of his daughter in Edinburgh simply on the
ground of her own outcry against his ill-usage. They were on bad terms,
the daughter having encouraged the addresses of a man whom he strongly
disliked as a profligate and a debauchee. One evening there was a fresh
quarrel between father and daughter, and bitter words passed which were
overheard by a neighbour. The Shaws occupied one of the tenement houses
still to be seen in Edinburgh, and their flat, the prototype of a modern
popular form of residence in Paris and London, adjoined that of a man
named Morrison.

The words used by Catherine Shaw startled and shocked Morrison. He
heard her repeat several times, "Cruel father, thou art the cause of my
death!" These were followed by awful groans. Shaw had been heard to go
out, and the neighbours ran to his door demanding admittance. As no one
opened and all was now silent within, a constable was called to force an
entrance, and the girl was found weltering in her blood, with a knife by
her side. She was questioned as to the words overheard, was asked if her
father had killed her, and she was just able to nod her head in the
affirmative, as it seemed.

Now William Shaw returned. All eyes were upon him; he turned pale at
meeting the police and others in his apartment, then trembled violently
as he saw his daughter's dead body. Such manifest signs of guilt fully
corroborated the deceased's incriminating words. Last of all, it was
noticed with horror that there was blood on his hands and on his shirt.
He was taken before a magistrate at once, and committed for trial. The
circumstances were all against him. He admitted in his defence the
quarrel, and gave the reason, but declared that he had gone out that
evening leaving his daughter unharmed, and that her death could only be
attributed to suicide. He explained the bloodstains by showing that he
had been bled some days before and that the bandage had become untied.
The prosecution rested on the plain facts, mainly on the girl's words,
"Cruel father, thou art the cause of my death!" and her implied
accusation in her last moments.

Shaw was duly convicted, sentenced, and executed at Leith Walk in
November, 1721, with the full approval of public opinion. Yet the
innocence which he still maintained on the scaffold came out clearly the
following year. The tenant who came into occupation of Shaw's flat found
there a paper which had slipped down an opening near the chimney. It was
a letter written by Catherine Shaw, as was positively affirmed by
experts in handwriting, and it was addressed to her father, upbraiding
him for his barbarity. She was so hopeless of marrying him whom she
loved, so determined not to accept the man her father would have forced
upon her, that she had decided to put an end to the existence which had
become a burden to her. "My death," she went on, "I lay to your charge.
When you read this, consider yourself as the inhuman wretch that plunged
the knife into the bosom of the unhappy Catherine Shaw!"

This letter, on which there was much comment, came at last into the
hands of the authorities, who, having satisfied themselves that it was
authentic, ordered the body of Shaw to be taken down from the gibbet
where it still hung in chains and to be decently interred. As a further
but somewhat empty reparation of his honour, a pair of colours was waved
over his grave.

[Illustration: THE PRESS-GANG AT WORK (p. 64).]


A still more curious story is that of a sailmaker who many years ago
went to spend Christmas with his mother near Deal. On his way he spent a
night at an inn at Deal, and shared a bed with the landlady's uncle,
the boatswain of an Indiaman, who had just come ashore. In the morning
the uncle was missing, the bed was saturated with blood, and the young
sailmaker had disappeared. The bloodstains were soon traced through the
house, and beyond, as far as the pier-head. It was naturally concluded
that the boatswain had been murdered and his body thrown into the sea. A
hue-and-cry was at once set up for the young man, who was arrested the
same evening in his mother's house.

He was taken red-handed, with ample proofs of his guilt upon him. His
clothes were stained with blood; in his pockets were a knife and a
strange silver coin, both of which were sworn to most positively as the
property of the missing boatswain. The evidence was so conclusive that
no credence could be given to the prisoner's defence, which was
ingenious but most improbable. His story was that he woke in the night
and asked the boatswain the way to the garden, that he could not open
the back door, and borrowed his companion's clasp-knife to lift the
latch. When he returned to bed the boatswain was gone; why or where he
had no idea.

The youth was convicted and sent to the gallows, but by strange fortune
he escaped death. The hanging was done so imperfectly that his feet
touched the ground, and when taken down he was soon resuscitated by his
friends. They made him leave as soon as he could move, and he went down
to Portsmouth, where he engaged on board a man-of-war about to start for
a foreign station. On his return from the West Indies three years later
to be paid off, he had gained the rating of a master's mate, and gladly
took service on another ship. The first person he met on board was the
boatswain he was supposed to have murdered!

The explanation given was sufficiently strange. On the day of his
supposed murder the boatswain had been bled by a barber for a pain in
the side. During the absence of his bedfellow the bandage had come off
his arm, which bled copiously, and he got up hurriedly to go in search
of the barber. The moment he got into the street he was seized by a
press-gang and carried off to the pier. There a man-of-war's boat was in
waiting, and he was taken off to a ship in the Downs, which sailed
direct for the East Indies. He never thought of communicating with his
friends; letter-writing was not much indulged in at that period.

Doubts have been thrown upon this story, which rests mainly upon local
tradition. As no body was found, it does not seem probable that there
would be a conviction for murder. Of the various circumstances on which
it was based, that of the possession of the knife was explained, but not
the possession of the silver coin. It has been suggested that when the
sailmaker took it out of the boatswain's pocket the coin had stuck
between the blades of the knife.


The astute villainy of a criminal in covering up his tracks was never
more successful than in the case of Brunell, the innkeeper at a village
near Hull. A traveller was stopped upon the road and robbed of a purse
containing twenty guineas. But he pursued his journey uninjured, while
the highwayman rode off in another direction.

Presently the traveller reached the Bell Inn, kept by Brunell, to whom
he recounted his misadventure, adding that no doubt the thief would be
caught, for the stolen gold was marked, according to his rule when
travelling. Having ordered supper in a private room, the gentleman was
soon joined by the landlord, who had heard the story, and now wished to
learn at what hour the robbery took place.

"It was just as night fell," replied the traveller.

"Then I can perhaps find the thief," said the landlord. "I strongly
suspect one of my servants, John Jennings by name, and for the following
reason. The man has been very full of money of late. This afternoon I
sent him out to change a guinea. He brought it back saying he could not
get the change, and as he was in liquor I was resolved to discharge him
to-morrow. But then I was struck with the curious fact that the guinea
was not the same as that which I had given, and that it was marked. Now
I hear that those you lost were all marked, and I am wondering whether
this particular guinea was yours."

"May I see it?" asked the traveller.

"Unfortunately I paid it away not long since to a man who lives at a
distance, and who has gone home. But my servant Jennings, if he is the
culprit, will probably have others in his possession. Let us go and
search him."

They went to Jennings's room and examined his pockets. He was in a deep
drunken sleep, and they came without difficulty upon a purse containing
nineteen guineas. The traveller recognised his purse, and identified by
the mark his guineas. The man was roused and arrested on this seemingly
conclusive evidence. He stoutly denied his guilt, but was sent for trial
and convicted. The case was thought to be clearly proved. Although the
prosecutor could not swear to the man himself, as the robber had been
masked, he did to his guineas. Again, the prisoner's master told the
story of his substitution of the marked for the other coin; while the
man to whom the landlord had paid the marked guinea produced it in
court. A comparison with the rest of the money left no doubt that these
guineas were one and the same.

The unfortunate Jennings was duly sentenced to death, and executed at
Hull. Yet, within a twelvemonth, it came out that the highwayman was
Brunell himself. The landlord had been arrested on a charge of robbing
one of his lodgers, and convicted; but he fell dangerously ill before
execution. As he could not live, he made full confession of his crimes,
including that for which Jennings had suffered.

It seemed that he had ridden sharply home after the theft, and, finding
a debtor had called, gave him one of the guineas, not knowing they were
marked. When his victim arrived and told his story, Brunell became
greatly alarmed. Casting about for some way of escape, he decided to
throw the blame on his servant, whom he had actually sent out to change
a guinea, but who had failed, as we know, and had brought back the same
coin. As Jennings was drunk, Brunell sent him to bed, and then easily
planted the incriminating purse in the poor man's clothes. No sort of
indemnity seems to have been paid to Jennings's relations or friends.


Of the same class was the conviction of a French refugee, Du Moulin, who
had fled to England from the religious persecutions in his own country.
He brought a small capital with him, which he employed in buying goods
condemned at the Custom-house, disposing of them by retail. The business
was "shady" in its way, as the goods in question were mostly smuggled,
but Du Moulin's honesty was not impeached until he was found to be
passing false gold. He made it a frequent practice to return money paid
him by his customers, declaring it was bad. The fact could not be
denied, but the suspicion was that he had himself changed it after the
first payment; and this happened so often that he presently got into
disrepute, losing both his business and his credit. The climax came when
he received a sum of £78 in guineas and Portugal gold, and "scrupled,"
or questioned, several of the pieces. But he took them, giving his
receipt. In a few days he brought back six coins, which he insisted were
of base metal. His client Harris as positively declared that they were
not the same as those he had paid. Then there was a fierce dispute. Du
Moulin was quite certain; he had put the whole £78 into a drawer and
left the money there till he had to use it, when part of it was at once
refused. Harris continued to protest, threatening Du Moulin with a
charge of fraud, but presently he paid. He lost no opportunity, however,
of exposing Du Moulin's conduct, doing so so often, and so libellously,
that the other soon brought an action for defamation of character.

[Illustration: _Photo: Cassell & Co., Ltd._


This drove Harris to set the law in motion also, on his own
information, backed by the reports of others on whom Du Moulin had
forced false money. A warrant was issued against the Frenchman, his
house was searched, and in a secret drawer all the apparatus of a
counterfeiter of coin was discovered--files, moulds, chemicals, and many
implements. This evidence was damnatory; his guilt seemed all the more
clear from the impudence with which he had assailed Harris and his
insistence in passing the bad money. Conviction followed, and he was
sentenced to death. But for a mere accident, which brought about
confession, he would certainly have suffered on the scaffold.

A day or two before he was to have been executed, one Williams, a seal
engraver, was thrown from his horse and killed, whereupon his wife fell
ill, and in poignant remorse confessed that her husband was one of a
gang of counterfeiters, and that she helped him by "putting off" the
coins. One of the gang hired himself as servant to Du Moulin, and, using
a whole set of false keys, soon became free of all drawers and
receptacles, in which he planted large quantities of false money,
substituting them for an equal number of good pieces.

The members of this gang were arrested and examined separately. They
altogether repudiated the charge, but Du Moulin's servant was
dumbfounded when some bad money was found in his quarters. On this he
turned king's evidence, and his accomplices were convicted.


A case in which "justice" was manifestly unjust is that of the shameful
prosecution and punishment of Calas, a judicial murder begun in wicked
intolerance and carried out with almost inconceivable cruelty.

Bitter, implacable hatred of the Protestant or Reformed faith and all
who professed it survived in the South of France till late in the
eighteenth century. There was no more bigoted city than Toulouse, which
had had its own massacre ten years before St. Bartholomew, and
perpetuated the memory of this "deliverance," as it was called, by
public fêtes on its anniversary. It was on the eve of the fête of 1761
that a terrible catastrophe occurred in the house of one Jean Calas, a
respectable draper, who had the misfortune to be a heretic--in other
words, a criminal, according to the ideas of Toulouse.

Marc Antoine Galas, the eldest son of the family, was found in a
cupboard just off the shop, hanging by the neck, and quite dead. The
shocking discovery was made by the third brother, Pierre. It was then
between nine and ten p.m.; he had gone downstairs with a friend who had
supped with them, and had come suddenly upon the corpse.

The alarm was soon raised in the town, and the officers of the law
hastened to the spot. In Toulouse the police was in the hands of the
_capitouls_, functionaries akin to the sheriffs and common councillors
of a corporation, and one of the leading men among them just then was a
certain David de Beaudrigue, who became the evil genius of this
unfortunate Calas family. He was bigoted, ambitious, self-sufficient,
full of his own importance, fiercely energetic in temperament, and
undeviating in his pursuit of any fixed idea.


  1. Obverse, Pope Gregory XIII. Reverse, Angel smiting Protestants.
  2. Obverse, Charles IX. Reverse, The King as Hercules slaying
     the hydra of heresy.
  3. Obverse, Charles IX. Reverse, The King on his throne.

Now, when called up by the watch and told of the mysterious death of
Marc Antoine Calas, he jumped to the conclusion that it was a murder,
and that the perpetrator was Jean Calas; in other words, that Calas was
a parricide. The motives of the crime were not far to seek, he thought.
One Calas son had already abjured the Protestant for the true faith,
this now dead son was said to have been anxious to go over, and the
father was resolved to prevent it at all cost. It was a commonly
accepted superstition in those dark times that the Huguenots would
decree the death of any traitors to their own faith.

Full of this baseless prepossession, De Beaudrigue thought only of what
would confirm it. He utterly neglected the first duty of a police
officer: to seek with an unbiassed mind for any signs or

[Illustration: THE CALAS FAMILY.

(_From the Picture by L. C. Carmontelli._)]

indications that might lead to the detection of the real criminals. He
should have at once examined the wardrobe in which the body was found
pendent; the shop close at hand, the passage that led from it through a
small courtyard into the back street. It was perfectly possible for
ill-disposed people to enter the shop from the front street and escape
by this passage, and possibly they might leave traces behind them.

De Beaudrigue thought only of securing those whom he already in his own
mind condemned as guilty, and hurrying upstairs found the Calas, husband
and wife, whom he at once arrested; Pierre Calas, whom he also
suspected, was given in charge of two soldiers; the maid-servant, too,
was taken, as well as two friends of the family who happened to be in
the house at the time. When another _capitoul_ mildly suggested a little
less precipitation, De Beaudrigue replied that he would be answerable,
and that he was acting in a holy cause.

The whole party was carried off to gaol. When the elder Calas asked to
be allowed to put a candlestick where he might find it easily on his
return, he was told sardonically, "You will not return in a hurry." The
request and its answer went far to produce a revulsion in his favour
when the facts became known. The wretched man never re-entered his
house, but he passed it on his way to the scaffold and knelt down to
bless the place where he had lived happily for many years, and from
which he had been so ruthlessly torn.

On the way to gaol the prisoners were greeted with yells and
execrations. It was already taken for granted that they had murdered
Marc Antoine. Arrived at the Hôtel de Ville, there was a short halt
while the accusation was prepared charging the whole party as principals
or accessories. An interrogatory followed which was no more than a
peremptory summons to confess. "Come," said the _capitoul_ to Pierre,
"confess you killed him." Denial only exasperated De Beaudrigue, who
began at once to threaten Calas and the rest with the torture.

There was absolutely no evidence whatever against the accused, and in
the absence of it recourse was had to an ancient ecclesiastical
practice, the _monitoire_, a solemn appeal made to the religious
conscience of all who knew anything to come forward and declare it. This
notice was affixed to the pulpits of churches and in street corners. It
assumed the guilt of the Calas family quite illegally, because without
the smallest proof, and it warned everyone to come forward and speak,
whether from hearsay or of their own knowledge. Nothing followed the
_monitoire_, so these pious sons of the Church went a step farther and
obtained a _fulmination_; a threat to excommunicate all who could speak
yet would not. This was duly launched, and caused great alarm. Religious
sentiment had reached fever pitch. The burial of Marc Antoine with all
the rites of the Church was a most imposing ceremony. He lay in state.
The catafalque bore a notice to the effect that he had abjured heresy.
He was honoured as a martyr; a little more and he would have been
canonised as a saint.


Still, nothing conclusive was forthcoming against the Calas. One or two
witnesses declared that they had heard disputes, swore to piteous
appeals made to the father by the dead son, to cries such as "I am being
strangled!" "They are murdering me!" and this was all. It was all for
the prosecution; not a word was heard in defence. The Protestant friends
of the family were not competent to bear witness; the accused, moreover,
were permitted to call no one. It would be hard to credit the
disabilities still imposed upon the French Huguenots were it not that
the laws in England against Roman Catholics at that time were little
less severe. In France all offices, all professions were interdicted to
Protestants. They could not be ushers or police agents, they were
forbidden to trade as printers, booksellers, watchmakers, or grocers,
they must not practise as doctors, surgeons, or apothecaries.

Although there was no case, the prosecution was obstinately persisted
in, not merely because the law officers were full of prejudice, but
because, if they failed to secure conviction, they would be liable to a
counter action for their high-handed abuse of legal powers. As has been
said, no pains were taken at the first discovery of the death to examine
the spot or investigate the circumstances. It was all the better for the
prosecution that nothing of the kind was done. Had the police approached
the matter with an open mind, judging calmly from the facts apparent,
they would have been met at once by an ample, nay, overwhelming--explanation.
There can be no doubt that Marc Antoine Calas committed suicide. The
proofs were plain. This eldest son was a trouble to his parents, ever
dissatisfied with his lot, disliking his father's business, eager to
take up some other line, notably that of an advocate. Here, however, he
encountered the prejudice of the times, which forbade this profession to
a Protestant; and it was his known dissatisfaction with this law that
led to the conjecture--and there was little else--that he wished to
abjure his faith. At last Marc Antoine offered to join his father, but
was told that until he learnt the business and showed more aptitude he
could not hope for a partnership. From this moment he fell away, took to
evil courses, frequented the worst company, was seen at the billiard
tables and tennis courts of Toulouse, and became much addicted to
gambling. When not given to debauchery he was known as a silent, gloomy,
discontented youth, who quarrelled with his lot and complained always of
his bad luck. On the very morning of his death he had lost heavily--a
sum of money entrusted him by his father to exchange from silver into

All this pointed to the probability of suicide. The Calas themselves,
however, would not hear of any such solution. Suicide was deemed
disgraceful and dishonourable. Sooner than suggest suicide, the elder
Calas was prepared to accept the worst. One of the judges was strongly
of opinion that it was clearly a case of


(_From the Painting by D. Chodswiecke, 1768._)]

_felo de se_, but he was overruled by the rest, who were equally
convinced of the guilt of the Calas. Not a single witness of the 150
examined could speak positively; not one had seen the crime committed;
they contradicted each other, and their statements were improbable and
opposed to common sense. Moreover, the murder was morally and physically
impossible. Was it likely that a family party collected round the
supper-table would take one of their number downstairs and hang him?
Could such wrong be done to a young and vigorous man without some sort
of struggle that would leave its traces on himself and in the scene

But the bigoted and prejudiced judges of Toulouse gave judgment against
the accused; yet, although so satisfied of their guilt, they ordered the
torture to be applied to extort full confession. The prisoners
appealing, the case was heard in the local parliament, and the first
decision upheld. Thirteen judges sat; of these, seven were for a
sentence of death, three for preliminary torture, two voted for a new
inquiry based on the supposition of suicide, one alone was for
acquittal. As this was not a legal majority, one dissident was won over,
and sentence of death was duly passed on Calas, who was to suffer
torture first, in the hope that by his admissions on the rack the guilt
of the rest might be assured.

The sentence was executed under circumstances so horrible and
heartrending that humanity shudders at hearing them. Calas was taken
first to the question chamber and put "upon the first button." There,
being warned that he had but a short time to live and must suffer
torments, he was sworn and exhorted to make truthful answer to the
interrogatories, to all of which, after the rack had been applied, he
replied denying his guilt. He was then put "upon the second button"; the
torture increased, and still he protested his innocence. Last of all, he
was subjected to the question extraordinary, and being still firm, he
was handed over to the reverend father to be prepared for death. He
suffered on the wheel, being "broken alive"; the process lasted two
whole hours, but at the end of that time the executioner put him out of
his misery by strangling him. When asked for the last time, on the very
brink of the grave, to make a clean breast of his crime and give up the
names of his confederates, he only answered, "Where there has been no
crime there can be no accomplices." His constancy won him the respect
of all who witnessed his execution. "He died," said a monk "like one of
our Catholic martyrs."

[Illustration: VOLTAIRE.

(_From the Picture by Largillière._)]

This noble end caused deep chagrin to his judges; they were consumed
with secret anxiety, having hoped to the last that a full confession
would exonerate them from their cruelty. At Toulouse there had been a
fresh outburst of fanaticism, in which more lives were lost; and now,
the news of Calas' execution reaching the city, open war was declared
against all Huguenots. But a reaction was at hand, caused by the very
excess of this religious intolerance. The terrible story began to
circulate through France and beyond. The rest of the accused had been
released, not without reluctance, by the authorities of Toulouse, but
Pierre Calas had been condemned to banishment. Another brother had
escaped to Geneva, where he met with much sympathy.

The feeling in other Protestant countries was intense, and loud protests
were published. But the chief champion and vindicator of the Calas
family was Voltaire, who seized eagerly at an opportunity of attacking
the religious bigotry of his countrymen. He soon raised a storm through
Europe, writing to all his disciples, denouncing the judges of Toulouse,
who had killed an innocent man. "Everyone is up in arms. Foreign
nations, who hate us and beat us, are full of indignation. Nothing since
St. Bartholomew has so greatly disgraced human nature."

Voltaire bent all the powers of his great mind to collecting evidence
and making out a strong case. The Encyclopædists, with d'Alembert at
their head, followed suit. All Paris, all France grew excited. The widow
Calas was brought forward to make a fresh appeal to the king in council.
The whole case was revived in a lengthy and tedious procedure, and in
the end it was decided to reverse the conviction. "There is still
justice in the world!" cried Voltaire--"still some humanity left.
Mankind are not all villains and scoundrels."

Three years after the judicial murder of Jean Calas all the accused were
formally pronounced innocent, and it was solemnly declared that Jean
Calas was illegally done to death. But the family were utterly ruined,
and, although entitled to proceed against the judges for damages, they
had no means to go to law. The Queen said the French wits had drunk
their healths, but had given them nothing to drink in return.

It is satisfactory to know, however, that some retribution overtook the
principal mover in this monstrous case. The fierce fanatic, David de
Beaudrigue, was dismissed from all his offices, and being threatened
with so many lawsuits, he went out of his mind. He was perpetually
haunted with horrors, always saw the scaffold and the executioner at his
grisly task, and at last, in a fit of furious madness, he threw himself
out of the window. The first time he escaped death, but he made another
attempt, and died murmuring the word "Calas" with his last breath.


On the 30th of January, 1790, at five o'clock in the morning, the
Nuremberg merchant Johann Marcus Sterbenk was awakened by his maid with
the unpleasant news that his house had been broken into and the
counting-house robbed of its strong-box, containing the sum of 2,000
gulden. It was a heavy iron strong-box, standing on four legs, and was
painted in dark green stripes and ornamented on the top surface and lock
with leaves and flowers. The sum stolen meant a small fortune in those
days. The counting-house had a window which looked out on to the
staircase, and some ten days before, when the key of the door had been
mislaid, it had been necessary to remove a pane of glass from the window
in order to reach the door from within. On getting to his
counting-house, the merchant found that the pane of glass had again been
removed, and that the door of the room was standing open. The main front
door also was open, although the maid had declared that she had bolted
it securely the evening before.

The robbery had clearly been the work of someone who knew the locality
well; yet, although several people swore to having seen
suspicious-looking men in the neighbourhood about two o'clock in the
morning, they were unable to identify or describe them, and for a time
justice was at fault.

Suddenly suspicion fell on one Schönleben, Sterbenk's messenger; and ere
long all agreed that he must be the culprit. There was absolutely no
evidence--nothing more than his own careless words, which were seized
upon and twisted against him. It was now remembered that his previous
life had not been blameless, and every little incident was seized upon
to his discredit. Thus it was said that the day after the robbery his
brother was seen in close converse with him at his house; after that the
brother drove out of town with his cart, in which, according to general
belief, the strong-box was concealed. Again, it was noted that
Schönleben had been often late at business, and again, that the day
after the robbery he appeared extremely lightheaded.

On the strength of these suspicions Schönleben was arrested, and with
him a poor beadmaker, Beutner by name, who was suspected of being his
accomplice. The only connection between the two was that Beutner had
once helped Schönleben to carry a load of wood into the Sterbenks'
house; and as he was passing the window of the counting-house, it was
said that he gazed spell-bound at the sight of all the money inside. For
not more than this the two were lodged in gaol and subjected to
criminal examination. It was hardly thought possible that they could be
innocent men. A new clue was, however, soon discovered. A barber named
Kirchmeier called on Sterbenk and declared that on the day of the
robbery he had seen a cash-box identical in every respect with the one
stolen. It was in the room of a working gilder, Mannert, who lived in
the same house as Schönleben the messenger. On making a second call at
the same room a few days later there was no box to be seen. Kirchmeier
deposed that the box was standing under the table near the oven and
behind the door; and as this witness was a respectable, well-to-do
citizen, bearing the character of an upright, religious man, his
testimony was deemed unimpeachable. The poor gilder, Mannert, had also
always borne the best of characters, but he, too, was arrested, with his
wife and sons. When examined, he denied absolutely that he had ever
owned such a box, and although he admitted a slight acquaintance with
Schönleben, and that he was employed by Sterbenk, he declared that he
knew nothing of the messenger's private affairs.

Then the examination of the Mannerts was renewed; but as they still
persisted in repudiating all knowledge of the strong-box the Court had
recourse to more drastic measures. In those days it was not absolutely
required that witnesses should take the oath, which was reserved for
extreme cases; it was a last step when evidence was imperfect, and the
punishment for perjury was very severe. Kirchmeier signified his perfect
willingness to be sworn, and eventually reiterated his charges upon
oath. "That which I saw, I saw," he averred. "The green-painted
cash-box, with green wooden legs, I saw in the rooms of the man who is
now kneeling imploringly before me. I cannot help it. I am quite
convinced that in this case I am not mistaken. If I am, his blood be on
my head."

The Court, after such solemn testimony, could not exonerate the Mannerts
and Schönleben; and the public shared this conviction. Excitement over
the case was not confined to Nuremberg, but spread through all Germany.
So high ran feeling against the accused for their obstinate pleas of
innocence, that the mob smashed Schönleben's windows and killed his
youngest child as it lay in its mother's arms.

HOME" (p. 84).]

Mannert's wife and sons corroborated his statements. Nevertheless, the
barber, Kirchmeier, when confronted with them, stuck to his story. The
entire absence of all malicious motive strengthened his testimony and
gained him full credence from the Nuremberg authorities. So the Mannert
family were also consigned to durance, while their residence was
searched from top to bottom. Nothing incriminating was found; only in a
lumber room one of the planks appeared to have been recently disturbed,
and this, although it led to no further discovery, was deemed highly

Meanwhile, Schönleben had been again questioned, and still stoutly
denied his guilt. When asked as to his accomplices and confederates, he
replied that he could have had none, having committed no crime. Beutner,
the beadmaker, had no doubt asked him once where Sterbenk's
counting-house was situated, and whether the family all slept upstairs,
but, after all, that might be mere curiosity. Beutner excused himself by
saying he must have been drunk when he asked such questions--at least,
he had no recollection of putting them. Several independent witnesses
deposed to having been with Beutner on the night of the robbery till 2
a.m., after which they walked home with him.

The perverse cruelty of the Nuremberg Court, which had accepted
Kirchmeier's story so readily, was not yet exhausted, and, very much as
in the case of Calas, given on a previous page, it persisted in seeking
a confession as its own best justification. Mannert was still obdurate,
however, and force was now applied. Floggings were tried, but quite
without result, and at last, a fresh search of the dwellings of both
Mannert and Schönleben having proved fruitless, it was resolved to
appeal to the antiquated instruments of Nuremberg justice, surviving
still, within ten years of the nineteenth century--the priest and the

The power of the priest to extort confession, even from the most
hardened criminals, had often proved successful heretofore, and public
expectation was raised high that justice would once more be vindicated
in this fashion. But the priests failed now. Neither Mannert, nor his
wife, nor his sons would make the slightest acknowledgment of their
guilt, and it became clear that they had won over the priests to their
side. Still the Court was resolute to follow out its own line of action.
Confession having failed, it determined to try the effect of flogging
the woman, or, if her health did not allow such an extreme proceeding,
she was to be strictly isolated, and kept upon bread and water in the
darkest dungeon of the prison; lastly, if these merciless measures
proved of no avail, she was to be subjected to the rack.

Schönleben, from the recesses of the prison, now made a desperate effort
to free himself by reviving suspicion against Beutner. So absolutely
helpless and hopeless had justice now become that the Nuremberg Court
actually accepted a dream as evidence. Schönleben pretended that he had
seen the missing cash-box under a heap of wood at Beutner's house--seen
it only in his dreams, however. This "baseless fabric" of his
imagination sufficed to send the officers to search Beutner's house,
and although nothing was discovered, public opinion agreed with the
judges in again accusing Beutner, and he was held to be implicated,
despite the renewed proof of a satisfactory _alibi_. Nobody believed
Beutner's witnesses.

The next incident in these shameful proceedings was the death of Frau
Mannert, who succumbed to the cruel treatment she had received. She died
protesting her innocence to the last, and the priests who shrived her in
the dark underground cell where she breathed her last expressed much
indignation at the shocking ill-usage to which she owed her death.

Four more months passed, bringing no relaxation in the law's severity
towards those whom it still gripped in its cruel clutches. Who shall say
what their fate might have been? But now, at last, an unexpected turn
was given to the inquiry, and by pure accident justice got upon the
right track. Certain rumours reached the ears of one of the judges, who
proceeded to investigate them. These rumours started from a beer-shop,
where someone in his cups had been heard grossly to abuse a locksmith,
Gösser by name, and his assistant, Blösel. The vituperation ended in a
direct charge of complicity in the Sterbenk robbery. Blösel sat
speechless under the attack, but his master, Gösser, tried lamely to
repudiate the charges. It was remembered now against these two that,
although miserably poor till a certain date, they had become suddenly
rich; had bought good clothes and silver watches, had launched out into
many extravagances, and were always ready to stand treat to their
friends. Gösser just now had applied for a passport to leave Nuremberg
and go to Dresden; and passports were in those days rather expensive
luxuries, and generally beyond the means of persons in straitened
circumstances. Schönleben once more contributed his quota to the newly
formulated charge; he had always suspected him, he said; and this time
he had good reason to do so. When the police arrested Gösser and his
assistant (they were always glad to arrest anybody), the two prisoners
incontinently confessed their crime.

Gösser, a man of thirty-three, had settled in Nuremberg with his wife
and family about a year previously. He was a shiftless, aimless fellow,
and it was only by serious money sacrifices that he obtained admission
into the guild of locksmiths in Nuremberg. Having thus started in debt,
he was never able to get clear

[Illustration: STREET IN NUREMBERG.]

again. He was often in want of the necessaries of life; his relations
would not help him; and he began to despair of ever gaining an honest
livelihood. Having once visited Sterbenk's house, he had quickly
realised how easily the counting-house door might be forced. The
criminal idea of thus obtaining funds once formed, it grew and gained
more mastery, till at length, on the night of the 29th of January, he
proceeded to perpetrate the theft. He went to Sterbenk's, opened the
outer door, which he said was unbolted, and silently, and without
difficulty, entered the counting-house. Finding the strong-box too heavy
to move by himself, he had gone home and awakened his assistant, whom
he persuaded to join him. Together they had crept back, lifted the
cash-box, and, without interference, carried it home. While Gösser's
wife was out of the way, they opened it and divided the spoil. The box
they kept close hidden for a long time, but at last broke it up and
threw the pieces bit by bit into the river. After the robbery Gösser
confessed to his wife, who, overcome with fear, implored her husband to
return the money. But he paid some pressing debts and bought what he
needed for his business, and now hoped that he was on the high road to
success and competence. Gösser declared that no one had instigated him
to the deed, that he alone was responsible, and had had no accomplice
beyond Blösel; and the confessions of his wife and Blösel corroborated
these statements.


An examination of Gösser's dwelling also confirmed them, while portions
of the strong-box were by-and-bye found in the river. But it was not
till after there remained no shadow of doubt of the truth of Gösser's
story that the other prisoners were lightened of their chains, and only
by degrees were they informed of the new turn of affairs.

Kirchmeier was arrested on the 4th of November, and feeling ran
tremendously strong against him as the original cause of so much cruel
injustice. His three confessions were read out to him, and he was asked
if he still stood by them. Strange to state, he firmly reiterated them,
continuing to do so even when the fragments of the box and the plainly
rebutting evidence were laid before him. The only plausible solution of
his extraordinary conduct was that he suffered from hallucinations. He
had only lately recovered from a bad attack of bilious fever; and it was
quite probable that in his convalescent condition the excitement of the
robbery working on a disordered mind produced an impression which had
all the weight and force of actual tangible fact. Some such view of his
conduct was evidently taken by the Court; for, although arraigned for
perjury, he was acquitted, and absolved from having falsely sworn from
any evil motive. Yet his fellow-townspeople could not readily forgive
him, or forget the sufferings he had brought upon the innocent victims
of his delusions. He was scouted by his old friends and deserted by his
customers; and, to escape universal execration and the starvation that
threatened him, he settled in another part of Germany. Gösser and Blösel
were, of course, duly punished.


This case,[6] in which Justice got upon a false scent and narrowly
escaped the commission of a tragical blunder, is remarkable for the
tortuous course it ran before the truth was at last reached. In a
certain Dutch town there lived, towards the close of the last century,
an elderly widow lady, Madame Andrecht. She was fairly well-to-do, and
possessed some valuable silver, although she lived in a quiet, retired
street and in a not very reputable locality. Her neighbours were all of
the poorer classes; and the town ditch, which was navigable, flowed at
the bottom of her back garden. Hers was a tranquil, uneventful
existence; she was served by one elderly female servant, and her only
recreation was a yearly visit paid to a married son in the country, when
she locked up the house and took the servant away with her.

On the 30th of June, 17--, she returned home, after one of these visits,
to find her house broken into and most of her possessions gone. It was
clear that the thieves were acquainted with the interior of the house,
and had set to work in a systematic fashion, although some of the
plunder had escaped them. A window leading from the garden had been
forced; the back door was open, and footsteps could be traced down the
garden to the hedge at the bottom over the ditch. This pointed to the
removal of the booty by boat.

The discovery of this robbery caused a great sensation, and the house
was soon surrounded by a gaping crowd, whom the police had some trouble
in controlling. One, an irrepressible baker, managed to make his way
inside, and his acquaintances awaited with impatience the result of his
investigations. But on his return he assumed a great air of mystery, and
refused to satisfy their curiosity. Everyone was left to evolve his own
theory, and the most voluble of the chatterers was a wool-spinner,
Leendert van N----, who talked so pointedly that before evening he was
summoned to the town house and called upon for an explanation by the
burgomaster. In a hesitating, stammering way, as if dreading to
incriminate anyone, he unfolded his suspicions, which were to the
following effect:--

At the end of the street stood a small alehouse, kept by an ex-soldier,
Nicholas D----, commonly known as the "Blue Dragoon." Some years
previously he had courted and married a servant of Madame Andrecht. The
mistress had never liked the match, and had done all she could to
prevent the young people from meeting. Nicholas had managed, however, to
pay the girl secret visits, stealing at night across Leendert's back
garden and over the hedge. Leendert objected, and begged Nicholas to
discontinue these clandestine proceedings. Later on he discovered that
the ardent lover used to row along the fosse and enter the garden that
way. All this was ancient history, but it was brought back to his mind
by the robbery. His suspicion had been emphasised by the fact of his
finding a handkerchief on the fosse bank, opposite the garden, only ten
days before. This handkerchief proved to be marked with the initials N.

Suspicion, once raised against the dragoon, was strengthened by other
circumstances. During the first search of the house a half-burnt paper
had been picked up, presumably a pipelight. On examination, it was found
to be an excise receipt, and further investigation proved it to have
belonged to Nicholas D----. This evidence, such as it was, seemed to
point to the same person, and, after a short consultation among the
magistrates, orders were given for his arrest, and that of his wife,
father, and brother. His house was ransacked, but the closest search
failed to reveal the missing plate; only in one drawer a memorandum-book
was discovered which was proved beyond doubt to have belonged to Madame

Nothing resulted from a first examination to which the prisoner was
subjected. He answered every question in an open, straightforward
manner; but while admitting the facts of his courtship, as told by the
wool-spinner, he could adduce no rebutting evidence in his own defence.
The other members of the household corroborated what he had said; and
the wife declared strenuously that the note-book had not been in the
drawer the previous week, when she had removed all the contents in order
to clean the press. Their attitude and their earnest protestations of
innocence made a favourable impression on the judge; the neighbours
testified to their honest character and general good name. Still,
Nicholas could not be actually exonerated; the note-book, the charred
receipt, and the handkerchief were so many unanswered points against

At this stage of the inquiry a new witness came forward and strengthened
the suspicion against Nicholas D----. A respectable citizen, a wood
merchant, voluntarily appeared before the authorities and made a
statement, which, he said, had been weighing on his conscience ever
since the robbery. It would seem that a carpenter, Isaac van C----, owed
this man money; and he had been obliged to put pressure upon him. The
carpenter had begged him to delay proceedings, telling him of the
difficulty he also had in collecting his dues, and showing him some
silver plate he had taken in pledge from one of his debtors. After some
discussion, the wood merchant agreed to accept the plate as part payment
of the carpenter's bill. When the robbery became known, the wood
merchant began to think the articles pledged to him might have formed
part of the stolen property. He had no reason to suspect his debtor, the
carpenter, of being concerned in the theft, but still he thought the
clue ought to be followed up.

The carpenter was immediately sent for and examined. He said that the
debtor of whom he spoke to the wood merchant was Nicholas D----, who
owed him sixty gulden for work done on the premises, and as he would not
or was unable to pay, he (the carpenter) had peremptorily asked for his
money. Nicholas then offered him some old silver, which he said had
belonged to his father, and asked him to dispose of it through an agent
in Amsterdam or some distant town. Nicholas was brought in, and,
confronted with the carpenter, did not deny that he owed the debt and
could not see how to pay it; but when the plate was shown him he
hesitated, turned pale, and declared he knew nothing about it. His
nervousness and prevarication excited a general doubt as to his previous
statements. This was further increased by the examination of the
carpenter's private account-book, which contained an entry of the old
silver received from the innkeeper. The carpenter's housekeeper and
apprentice also bore witness to the agreement.

[Illustration: SUMMER UNIFORM.]


[Illustration: WINTER UNIFORM.]

The general feeling in the town was now very strong against Nicholas
D----. He was committed to the town prison, and his relatives placed
under closest surveillance. All, nevertheless, persisted in their story.
In order to ascertain the truth, justice was prepared to go to the
extreme length of applying torture to force a confession from the
obstinate accused. But happily, just as the "question" was about to be
employed, the following letter was received:--

     "Before I leave the country and betake myself where I shall be
     beyond the reach either of the Court of M---- or the military
     tribunal of the garrison, I would save the unfortunate persons who
     are now prisoners at M----. Beware of punishing the innkeeper, his
     wife, his father, or his brother, for a crime of which they are not
     guilty. How the story of the carpenter is connected with theirs I
     cannot conjecture. I have heard of it with the greatest surprise.
     The latter may not himself be entirely innocent. Let the judge pay
     attention to this remark. You may spare yourself the trouble of
     inquiring after me. If the wind is favourable, by the time you read
     this letter I shall be on my passage to England.

                                "JOSEPH CHRISTIAN RUHLER,
             Formerly Corporal in the Company of Le Lery."

The receipt of this letter started a new set of conjectures, followed up
by inquiries. Captain le Lery's company was quartered in the town, and
Corporal Ruhler had, as a matter of fact, belonged to it, but he had
mysteriously and suddenly disappeared about the time of the robbery. No
trace of him had been found. His letter seemed to throw light upon his
disappearance, yet when it was shown to his captain and some of his
comrades it was unanimously declared to be a forgery. What could have
been the writer's object in fabricating it? Various theories were
advanced, the most popular being that some guilty party, knowing the
corporal had gone, thought to implicate him and save the accused from
the torture, which might have driven them to full confession, in which
the names of all accomplices would have been divulged. It was a clumsy
explanation, but the only feasible one forthcoming. Every effort was
made to discover the author of the letter, but without avail.

Now a fresh witness volunteered information--a merchant who lived in
Madame Andrecht's neighbourhood, and who had left home about the time
that the robbery had been perpetrated. He had just returned, to find
that the mysterious affair was the talk of the town--indeed, he had had
a full account of it from his fellow-passengers in the coach which
brought him home. He now came to the authorities and told them what he
knew. A day or two before the robbery a carpenter, Isaac van C----, had
come to him seeking to borrow his boat, which the merchant kept in the
fosse just behind his warehouse. Isaac made some pretence for wanting
the boat which was not altogether satisfactory to the merchant, who
refused to lend it, but yielded when the carpenter declared he wished to
use it for the purposes of fishing. The next morning the boat was
returned, but was not in exactly its right place; the inside of the
boat, moreover, was too clean and dry for it to have been recently used
for fishing. The merchant, although he had not yet heard of the robbery,
strongly suspected that the carpenter had used the boat for some
improper purpose, and he was strengthened in this view by finding two
silver spoons under one of the thwarts. This discovery angered him, for
he felt he had been deceived, and putting the spoons in his pocket, he
went at once to the carpenter for an explanation. The carpenter, with
whom were his housekeeper and apprentice, seemed greatly embarrassed
when the spoons were produced, and after having been pressed by the
merchant, they confessed that they had been up to no good, but would not
say where or how they had obtained these spoons. The merchant was now
called away from home, and the affair was driven from his mind by more
serious transactions. Now that he heard of the robbery, he remembered
the suspicious conduct of the carpenter and his servants.

Evidence of this sort, coming from a witness of the highest character,
carried so much weight that the judge ordered the carpenter and his
companions to be arrested. At the same time, search was made in the
house, which resulted in the discovery of the whole of the stolen
effects. The culprits, finding it useless to deny their guilt, now made
full confession. The three of them were implicated, but it was not
settled who had originated the idea. The apprentice, having worked in
Madame Andrecht's house for another master, knew his way about it, and
had guided the thieves after they had effected their entrance. The boat
had been borrowed, in the way described, to simplify the removal of the
plunder. All three of the culprits were with the crowd assembled outside
the house when the robbery had been discovered. They heard of the
suspicions against the Blue Dragoon, and the apprentice at once visited
the alehouse, and succeeded in secreting the memorandum-book in the
drawer of the press, where it was discovered.

The foregoing evidence was sufficient to convict the carpenter and his
two accomplices, but justice was not yet satisfied of Nicholas D----'s
innocence. Two damaging facts still told against him: the half-charred
excise bill and the handkerchief bearing his initials. It was possible
that he had been an accomplice, although the carpenter and the others
would not accuse him. That other people were also concerned seemed
evident from the fact of the forged letter, whose authorship was still

Further facts of a strange and interesting kind were presently
forthcoming about this letter. The schoolmaster of a neighbouring
village came with a scrap of paper on which was inscribed the name
Joseph Christian Ruhler, the name with which the forged letter had been
signed. At the schoolmaster's request the writing of this paper was
compared with that of the letter, and they were found to be identical.
Then the schoolmaster went on to say that both had been written by a
pupil of his, a deaf and dumb boy whom he had taught to write, and who
made a scanty living as an amanuensis. Some time before this, an unknown
man had called on the boy, had taken him to an inn in the village, and
there given him a letter to copy. The boy, on reading the letter--which,
as we have seen, was of a very compromising nature--demurred. But he was
pacified by the present of a gulden, and made the copy. Still, the
secrecy and peculiarity of the whole affair weighed on his mind, and he
at length confided the story to his teacher. The alleged letter from the
corporal had already got into circulation in the neighbourhood, and was
clearly the one the boy had copied. The schoolmaster went to the inn,
made inquiries about the strange man, and eventually found him to be a
baker, H----, the very man who had been so determined to enter Madame
Andrecht's house when the robbery was first announced. So far he had
been utterly unconnected in any way with the crime, though his excessive
zeal had attracted attention at the time. However, he was arrested; and
from the disclosures he made a warrant was also issued for the
apprehension of the wool-spinner, Leendert van N----, and his wife, who
had been the first to air their suspicions of the innkeeper's

As the investigation proceeded, a curious tale was unfolded. The last
persons arrested had no share in the housebreaking, but were concerned
in another crime, which probably would never have been discovered but
for the robbery. The substance of their confessions was as follows:--

Leendert van N----, H---- the baker, and Corporal Ruhler were old
acquaintances, and had dealings together of not too reputable a kind in
connection with the victualling and clothing of the garrison. They
cordially hated and despised each other, and only kept together from
community of interests and pursuits.

The associates were playing cards one evening (June 29th) in Leendert's
house, situated in the vicinity of Madame Andrecht's, when they
quarrelled with the corporal, and the corporal retorted in offensive
terms. From words they came to blows, in which Madame van N----
assisted. In a few minutes the corporal lay pinioned on the ground,
uttering loud curses and threatening them with public exposure. The
baker whispered that they had better do the job thoroughly, and after a
few blows the corpse, drenched in blood, lay at their feet.

The terrors of conscience and the apprehensions of their crime paralysed
their thoughts during the night. The next morning they heard the
commotion caused by the news of the discovery of the robbery at Madame
Andrecht's. At once they realised their danger, and the probability of a
house-to-house search being instituted, when their horrible crime would
be discovered. Their great object, then, was to give the authorities
something to occupy their time till the body could be disposed of. It
was Madame van N---- who perfected the idea. Why should not suspicion be
laid at the door of the Blue Dragoon? His nocturnal courtship was
remembered, and corroborative evidence could be supplied by a
handkerchief that he had dropped in the house some little time before.
The baker then remembered the old excise receipt that Nicholas D---- had
once handed him to make a note on. Part of it was charred away, and the
remaining portion was carelessly dropped in the house when the baker
accompanied the police in their search. It may be remembered that the
van N----'s were most busy in the hints they gave of the innkeeper's
supposed guilt, and their machinations were unconsciously assisted by
those of the carpenter and his confederates. So the false evidence
brought by these two independent plots formed very circumstantial proof
against the innocent victim. However, the baker and the wool-spinner
only wanted to excite suspicion against Nicholas till they could
accomplish their object of hiding the body. That effected, they began to
feel remorse that an innocent person should be ruined. The thought of
the torture which awaited him struck them with horror, and they evolved
the idea of a letter from


Ruhler, incriminating himself. Thus they hoped to obtain delay for
Nicholas and safety for themselves. However, their plans were too well
thought out; their fear of detection led them to employ the strange deaf
and dumb boy to write their letter, which afterwards betrayed them.

Sentence of death was pronounced against the persons who had been
concerned in the housebreaking as well as against those who had
committed the murder, and it was carried into effect on all of them with
the exception of Madame van N----, who died in prison. The wool-spinner
alone exhibited any sign of penitence.

[Illustration: DISCOVERY OF A CRIME]



     Lesurques and the Robbery of the Lyons Mail--The Champignelles
     Mystery--Judge Garrow's Story--An Imposition Practised at York
     Assizes--A Husband Claimed by Two Wives--A Milwaukee Mystery--A
     Scottish Case--The Kingswood Rectory Murder--The Cannon Street
     Case--A Narrow Escape.


The most famous, and perhaps the most hackneyed, of all cases of
mistaken identity is that of Lesurques, charged with the robbery and
murder of the courier of the Lyons mail, which has been so vividly
brought home to us through the dramatic play based upon it and the
marvellous impersonation of the dual _rôle_, Lesurques-Duboscq, by Sir
Henry Irving.

Lesurques was positively identified as a man who had travelled by the
mail coach, and he was in due course convicted. Yet at the eleventh hour
a woman came into court and declared his innocence, swearing that the
witnesses had mistaken him for another, Duboscq, whom he greatly
resembled. She was the _confidante_ of one of the gang who had planned
and carried out the robbery. But her testimony, although corroborated by
other confederates, was rejected, and Lesurques received sentence of
death. Yet there were grave doubts, and the matter was brought before
the Revolutionary Legislature by the Directory, who called for a
reprieve. But the Five Hundred refused, on the extraordinary ground that
to annul a sentence which had been legally pronounced "would subvert all
ideas of justice and equality before the law."

Lesurques died protesting his innocence to the last. "Truth has not been
heard," he wrote a friend; "I shall die the victim of a mistake." He
also published a letter in the papers addressed to Duboscq: "Man in
whose place I am to die," he wrote, "be satisfied with the sacrifice of
my life. If you are ever brought to justice, think of my three
children, covered with shame, and of their mother's despair, and do not
prolong the misfortunes of so fatal a resemblance." On the scaffold he
said, "I pardon my judges and the witnesses whose mistake has murdered
me. I die protesting my innocence."

Four years elapsed before Duboscq was captured. In the interval others
of the gang had passed through the hands of the police, but the prime
mover was only now taken. Even then he twice escaped from prison. When
finally he was put on his trial, and the judge ordered a fair wig, such
as Lesurques had worn, to be placed on his head, the strange likeness
was immediately apparent. He denied his guilt, but was convicted and
guillotined. Thus two men suffered for one offence.

French justice was very tardy in atoning for this grave error. The
rehabilitation of Lesurques' family was not decreed till after repeated
applications under several _régimes_--the Directory, the Consulate, the
Empire, and the Restoration. In the reign of Louis XVIII. the
sequestrated property was restored, but there was no revision of the
sentence, although the case was again and again revived.


One day in October, 1791, a lady dressed in mourning appeared at the
gates of the Château of Champignelles, and was refused admission. "I am
the Marquise de Douhault, _née_ de Champignelles, the daughter of your
old master. Surely you know me?" she said, lifting her veil. "The
Marquise de Douhault has been dead these three years," replied the
_concierge_; "you cannot enter here. I have strict orders from the Sieur
de Champignelles."

This same lady was seen next day at the village church, praying at the
tomb of the late M. de Champignelles, and many remarked her
extraordinary resemblance to the deceased Marquise. But the marquise was
dead; her funeral service had been performed in this very church. Some
of the bystanders asked the lady's maid-servant who she was, and were
told that they ought to know. Others went up to the lady herself, who
said, "I am truly the Marquise de Douhault, but my brother will not
acknowledge me or admit me to the château."

[Illustration: LESURQUE ON THE SCAFFOLD (p. 96).]

Then followed formal recognition. People were summoned by sound of drum
to speak to her identity, and did so "to the number of ninety-six, many
of them officials, soldiers, and members of the municipality." The lady
gave many satisfactory proofs, too, speaking of things that "only a
daughter of the house could know." Thus encouraged, she proceeded to
serve the legal notice on her brother and claim her rights--her share of
the property of Champignelles as co-heir, and a sum in cash for back
rents during her absence when supposed to be dead.

Where had she been all this time? Who had died, if not she? Her story,
although clear, precise, and supported by evidence, was most
extraordinary. To understand it we must go back and trace her history
and that of the Champignelles family as given in the memoir prepared by
the claimant for the courts.


Adelaide Marie had been married at twenty-three to the Marquis de
Douhault, who coveted her dowry, and did not prove a good husband. He
was subject to epileptic fits, eventually went out of his mind, and,
after wounding his wife with a sword, was shut up in Charenton. The wife
led an exemplary life till his death, which was soon followed by that of
her father. Her brother now became the head of the family, and is said
to have been a frank blackguard, the real cause of his father's death.
He proceeded to swindle his mother, who was entitled by settlement to a
life interest in the Champignelles estates, subject to pensions to her
children, and he persuaded her to reverse that arrangement--she to
surrender her property, he to pay her an annual allowance. He had gained
his sister's concurrence by obtaining her signature to a blank document,
which he filled up as he wished.

The son, of course, did not pay the allowances, and very often the
mother was in sad straits, reduced at times to pawn her jewels for food.
She appealed now to her daughter, who naturally sided with her, and
wrote in indignant terms to her brother. There was an angry quarrel,
with the threat of a lawsuit if he did not mend his ways. For the
purpose of conferring with her mother, whom she meant to join in the
suit, the Marquise de Douhault proposed to start for Paris.


(_From the Contemporary Portrait by Mme. Le Brun._)]

Having a strange presentiment that this journey would be unlucky, she
postponed it as long as possible, but went at length on the day after
Christmas Day, 1787. Arrived at Orleans, she accepted the hospitality of
a M. de la Roncière and rested there some days. On the 15th of January,
1788, she was to continue her journey, but in the morning she took a
carriage drive with her friends. All she remembered afterwards was that
Madame de la Roncière offered her a pinch of snuff, which she took, and
that she was seized with violent pains in the head, followed by great
drowsiness and stupor; the rest was a blank.

When she came to herself, she was a prisoner in the Salpêtrière. Her
brain was now clear, her mind active. She protested strongly, and,
saying who she was, demanded to be set at large. They laughed at her,
telling her her name was Buirette, and that she was talking nonsense.

Her detention lasted for seventeen months, and she was denied all
communication with outside. At last she managed to inform a friend, the
Duchess of Polignac, of her imprisonment, and on the 13th of July, 1789,
she was released, to find herself alone in Paris in the midst of the
horrors of the Revolution.

She was friendless. Her brother, to whom she at once applied, repudiated
her as an impostor; an uncle was equally cruel; she asked for her
mother, and was told she had none. Then she ran to Versailles, where
many friends resided, found refuge with the Duchess of Polignac, and was
speedily recognised by numbers of people, princes, dukes, and the rest,
all members of that French aristocracy which was so soon to be dispersed
in exile or to suffer by the guillotine. They urged her not to create a
scandal by suing her brother, but to trust to the king for redress. Soon
the king himself was a prisoner, and presently died on the scaffold.

Her case was taken up, however, by certain lawyers, who advanced her
funds at usurious rates, and planned an attack on her brother, under
which, however, they contemplated certain frauds of their own. When she
hesitated to entrust them with full powers one of these lawyers
denounced her to the Committee of Public Safety, and she narrowly
escaped execution. Bailly, the mayor of Paris, was a friend of hers, but
could not save her from imprisonment in La Force, where she remained a
month, then escaping into the country. Here she learnt that her mother
was not dead, and returned to Paris to see her at her last gasp. After
that she wandered to and fro in hiding and in poverty till, in 1791, she
reappeared at Champignelles.

Such was the case the claimant presented to the courts.

A story is good till the other side is heard, and her brother, M. de
Champignelles, clever, unscrupulous, and a friend of the Republican
Government, had a very strong defence. His first answer was to accuse
his sister, or the person claiming to be his sister, of having tried to
seize his château by force of arms, declaring that she had come backed
by three hundred men to claim her so-called rights, and that he had
appealed to the municipality for protection.

This plea failed, and his second was to accuse the claimant of being
someone else. He asserted that she was a certain Anne Buirette, who had
been an inmate of the Salpêtrière from the 3rd of January, 1786. This
date was a crucial point in the case. The claimant had adopted it as the
date of her entry into the Salpêtrière, yet it was clearly shown that at
that time the Marquise de Douhault was alive, and that she resided on
her property of Chazelet through 1786 and 1787. On other points the
claimant showed remarkable knowledge, remembered names, faces of people,
circumstances in the past; and all this tended to prove that she was the
Marquise. But


_Photo by permission of Messrs. Goupil et Cie_.

(_From the Painting by Tony Robert-Fleury._)]

this error in dates was serious, and it was strengthened by a mistake in
the Christian names of the deceased Marquis de Douhault.


The case came on for trial before the Civil Tribunal of St. Fargeau,
where the commissary of the Republic stated it fully, and with a strong
bias against the claimant. As he put it: "One side asked for the
restitution of a name, a fortune, of which she had been despoiled with a
cruelty that greatly added to the alleged crime; the other charged the
claimant with being an impostor seeking a position to which she had no
right whatever." Between these two alternatives the court must decide,
and either way a crime must be laid bare.

Was it all a fraud? The defence set up was certainly strong.

It rested first on the death of the Marquise. This was supported by the
certificates of the doctors who attended her in her last illness,
documents attested by the municipality of Orleans, which bore witness to
both illness and death. Another document testified that extreme unction
had been administered, and that the burial had been carried out in the
presence of many relatives. The family went into mourning, and the
memory of the Marquise was revered among the honoured dead.

There was next the suspicious commencement of the claim: a letter
addressed by the claimant to the curé of Champignelles, two years and a
half after the death above recorded, asking for a baptismal certificate
and another of marriage. This letter was full of faults of spelling and
grammar, and was signed Anne Louis Adelaide, formerly Marquise de
Grainville, names that were not exact. It was asserted that the real
Marquise was a lady of great intelligence, cultured, highly educated as
became her situation, knowing several languages, and a good musician,
and especially that she was well able to write prettily and correctly.

Then for the identity of the claimant with Anne Buirette there was
seemingly conclusive evidence, the strongest part of it being her own
statement of the date on which she was received at the Salpêtrière. All
the story of her release through the appeal to the Duchess of Polignac
was declared to be untrue. The past life of this Anne Buirette was raked
up, and it was demonstrated that she was a swindler who had been sent to
gaol for an ingenious fraud which may be narrated here. When in 1785, on
the occasion of the birth of a royal prince, the queen wished charitably
to redeem a number of the pledges in the Mont de Piété, the woman
Buirette, being unauthorised, drove round in a carriage, calling herself
a royal attendant, to collect pawn tickets from poor people. She
recovered the sums necessary to redeem the pledges and applied the money
to her own use. For this she was sent to the Salpêtrière, from which she
was released in October, 1789, and not, as she stated, on the day of the

From this moment, according to the defence, the fraud began, whether at
her own instance or not could not be shown. Her movements were traced
from place to place as she went about seeking recognition and
assistance, now accepted, more often rejected, by those to whom she
appealed. Finally the commissary closed the case by pointing to the
physical dissimilarity between the two women, the Marquise and the
claimant. The first was known as a lady of quality, distinguished in her
manners, clever, well-bred; the second was obviously stupid and
low-born, stained with vices, given to drink. The Marquise was of frail,
delicate constitution, the claimant seemed strong and robust; the first
had blue eyes, the second black; the first walked lame, the second
showed no signs of lameness.

Yet the claimant persisted, and her counsel upset much that had been
urged. It was shown that the death certificate was not produced; that
the ill-written letters so condemnatory were copies, not originals; that
the official documents purporting to set forth the past life of Anne
Buirette were irregular in form and probably not authentic. The claimant
showed that she was lame, that her eyes were blue; more, that she
carried the scar of the sword wound made by her mad husband years
before. It was all to no purpose. The tribunal refused to enter into the
question of the alleged falsity of the documentary evidence, and taking
its stand upon the date of entry into the Salpêtrière, declared that the
claimant could not be the Marquise de Douhault.

Then followed a long course of tedious litigation. The claim was
revived, carried from court to court, heard and re-heard; one decree
condemned the claimant, and recommended that the case should be dropped;
after five years the Supreme Court of Appeal sent it for a new trial to
the Criminal Court of Bourges. The points referred were: first, to
verify the death of the Marquise de Douhault; second, to establish
whether or not the claimant was Anne Buirette, and if not, third, to say
whether she was the Marquise.

There were now great discrepancies as to the date and the circumstances
of death. Some said it occurred on the 17th of January, 1788, some on
the 18th, some again on the 19th. Other facts also were disputed. As to
the second query, 18 witnesses swore that the claimant was Anne
Buirette; 14 saw no resemblance between Anne Buirette and her, and among
these was Anne Buirette's own husband. As to the third point, 153 out of
224 witnesses declared positively that this was the Marquise herself;
but 53 said either that she was not or that they had never seen the
claimant, whilst among the number were several who had been satisfied as
to her identity in the first instance.

These inquiries were followed by others as to handwriting, and many new
and surprising facts came out. It was asserted by experts that the
letters written before her alleged death by the Marquise and after it by
the claimant were in one and the same hand; that the documents the
claimant was said to have written or signed were forgeries, and must
have been concocted with fraudulent intention.

Now, too, the claimant explained away the famous date of entry into
prison, and laid it to her poor memory, enfeebled by so many

There seemed enough in all this to reverse the decision of St. Fargeau,
but the Court of Bourges upheld it. The Procureur-Général pronounced his
opinion, formed at the imperious demands of his conscience, that the
claimant was not the Marquise de Douhault; more, that "between her and
that respectable lady there was as much difference as between crime and

The law was pitilessly hostile to the very end. On the revival of the
case the claimant was successful in proving that she was certainly not
Anne Buirette, but although she published many memoirs prepared by some
of the most eminent lawyers of the day, and was continually before the
courts during the Consulate and First Empire, she was always unable to
establish her identity. The law denied that she was the Marquise de
Douhault, but yet would not say who she was. To the last she was
nameless, and had no official existence. When she died the authorities
would not permit any name to be inscribed on her tomb.


Our own criminal records abound with cases of disputed or mistaken
identity. Among the most remarkable of them is the one which Judge
Garrow was fond of recounting on the Oxford circuit. He described how a
man was being tried before him for highway robbery, and the prosecutor
identified him positively. The guilt of the accused seemed clear, and
the jury was about to retire to consider their verdict, when a man rode
full-speed into the courthouse yard, and forced his way into the court,
with loud cries to stop the case; he had ridden fifty miles to save the
life of a fellow-creature, the prisoner now at the bar.

[Illustration: "A MAN ... FORCED HIS WAY INTO THE COURT" (p. 104).]

This strange interruption would have been resented by the judge, but the
new arrival called upon all present, especially the prosecutor, to look
at him. It was at once apparent that he was the living image of the
prisoner; he was dressed in precisely similar attire, a green coat with
brass buttons, drab breeches, and top boots. The likeness in height,
demeanour, and especially in countenance, was so remarkable that the
prosecutor was dumbfoundered; he could no longer speak positively as to
the identity of the man who had robbed him. All along, the prisoner had
been protesting his innocence, and now, of course, the gravest doubts
arose as to his guilt. The prosecutor could not call upon the second man
to criminate himself, and yet the jury had no alternative but to acquit
the first prisoner. In this they were encouraged by the judge, who
declared that, although a robbery had certainly been committed by one of
two persons present, the prosecutor could not distinguish between them,
and there was no alternative but acquittal.

[Illustration: SIR WILLIAM GARROW.

(_From the Engraving by J. Parden._)]

So the first man got off; but now a fresh jury was empanelled, and the
second was put upon his trial; his defence was simple enough. Only the
day previous the prosecutor had sworn to one man as his robber. Could he
now be permitted, even if he wished, to swear away the life of another
man for the same offence? All he could say was that it was his belief
that it was the last comer that robbed him; but surely if the jury had
acquitted one person to whom he had sworn positively, could they now
convict a second whom he only believed to be guilty? The jury could not
but accept the force of this reasoning, and as the second man would make
no distinct confession of guilt, he was suffered to go free. But the
truth came out afterwards. The two men were brothers; the first had
really committed the crime, and the whole scene had been got up between
them for the purpose of imposing on the Court.


A very similar case occurred at York. A gentleman arrived there during
the assize, and having alighted at a good hotel, where he dined and
slept, asked the landlord next morning if he could find anything of
interest in the town. Hearing that the assizes were in progress, he
entered the court, just as a man was being tried for highway robbery.
The case seemed strong against the prisoner, who was much cast down, for
he had been vehemently protesting his innocence. Suddenly, on the
appearance of the stranger, he rose in the dock and cried, "Here, thank
God, is someone who can prove my innocence." The stranger looked
bewildered, but the prisoner went on to declare that he had met this
very gentleman, at a distant place, Dover, on the day of the alleged
robbery, and he now reminded him that he had conveyed his luggage on a
wheelbarrow from the Ship Inn to the packet for Calais. The stranger was
now interrogated, but could not admit that he had been in Dover on that
day, nor had he any distinct recollection of the prisoner. The judge
then inquired whether he was in the habit of keeping a diary, or of
recording the dates of his movements. The gentleman replied that he was
a merchant and made notes regularly in his pocket-book of his
proceedings. This pocket-book was at that moment locked up in his trunk
at the inn, but he would gladly surrender his keys and allow the book to
be fetched, to be produced in Court.

So a messenger was despatched for the book, and in the meantime the
prisoner at the bar questioned the stranger, recalling facts and
circumstances to his mind, with the result that their meeting in Dover
was pretty clearly proved. The stranger had given his name as a member
of a very respectable firm of London bankers, and altogether his
credibility appeared beyond question. Then came the book, which fixed
the date of his visit to Dover. All this remarkable testimony, arrived
at so strangely, was accepted by the jury, and the prisoner was
forthwith discharged. Within a fortnight, the gentleman and the
ex-prisoner were committed together to York Castle, charged with a most
daring act of house-breaking in the neighbourhood!


A very remarkable case of the difficulty of identification is to be
found in American records, under date 1804. A man was indicted


_Photo: Frith & Co., Reigate._]

for bigamy, the allegation being that he was a certain James Hoag. The
man himself said that he was Thomas Parker. At the trial, Mrs. Hoag, the
wife, and many relations, with other respectable witnesses, swore
positively that he was James Hoag; on the other hand, Thomas Parker's
wife, and an equal number of credible witnesses, swore to the other
contention. Whereupon the Court recalled the first set of witnesses, who
maintained their opinion, being satisfied that he was James Hoag, his
stature, shape, gestures, complexion, looks, voice, and speech leaving
no doubt on the subject; they even described a particular scar on his
forehead, underneath his hair, and when this was turned back there, sure
enough, was the scar. Yet the Parker witnesses declared that Thomas
Parker had lived among them, worked with them, and was with them on the
very day he was supposed to have contracted his alleged marriage with
Mrs. Hoag. Now Mrs. Hoag played Her last card, and said that her husband
had a peculiar mark on the sole of his foot; Mrs. Parker admitted that
her husband had no such mark. So the court ordered the prisoner to take
off his shoes and stockings and show the soles of his feet; there was no
mark on either of them. Mrs. Parker now claimed him with great
insistency, but Mrs. Hoag would not give up her husband, and there was a
very violent discussion in court. At last a justice of the peace from
Parker's village entered the court and gave evidence to the effect that
he had known him from a child as Thomas Parker, and had often given him
employment. So Mrs. Parker carried off her husband in triumph.


An extraordinary case of mistaken identity occurred some fifty years ago
in Milwaukee, in the States, for the details of which I am indebted to a
gentleman of that city, Mr. John W. Hinton. No fewer than ten reputable,
straightforward witnesses swore positively to a dead body as that of a
man with whom they were intimately acquainted and in more or less daily
intercourse. They based their identification upon certain physical facts
of the most unmistakable kind. They were not only satisfied as to the
general features--the height, shape, size, the colour of the hair and
eyes--but there were other peculiar and distinctive marks, such as
scars, loss of teeth, a missing eye, that carried absolute conviction to
the witnesses. Yet they were all absolutely and entirely wrong;
completely deceived by the remarkable resemblance, the strange, almost
incredible similarity of personal traits in two different people.

The case arose out of a mysterious crime. About 9 a.m. on the morning of
the 14th of April, 1855, a party of rag-gatherers were seeking their
harvest from the river just below one of the Milwaukee bridges. A mass
of floating _débris_--chips, scraps of timber, and general rubbish--was
collected in an eddy at the water's edge, and amidst it a boy espied
what he at first thought to be a bag, and afterwards a bundle of rags.
He dragged it on shore with his boat-hook and began to examine it. All
at once he dropped the parcel with a loud yell and took to his heels.
Some of his more courageous fellows then tore it open and exposed its
ghastly contents. Inside was the trunk of a human body, with the head
all but severed, and held only by a few ligaments. The brains had been
dashed out by a blow on the back of the skull, which made a deep
indentation several inches long. A great gash had been made in the
throat; the left eye protruded; both legs had been chopped off and were
gone. The bottom of the bag, as the cover proved to be, had been frayed
out or forced open by the action of the water, and the missing portions
of the trunk had fallen through or been washed out of the aperture.

The Milwaukee police, headed by the Deputy-Sheriff, who had been at one
time Chief of Police, were soon upon the scene. The cause of death was
plain. The weapon used was indicated by the wounds; it was evidently an
axe which had cut into the skull, and the protruding eye had been sliced
out by the same instrument. Close scrutiny of the bag revealed one or
two clues of importance. The bag was a wheat sack, with the name of
"Vogt" stamped upon it; it had been securely tied by peculiar knots,
which an expert eye recognised as French, knots tied by no one but
Frenchmen, and French sailors to boot. Weights had evidently been
inserted in the "slack" of the bag, which had been thus knotted, and
portions of the rope remained attached to the bag. The weights were
gone, and had no doubt been detached at the bottom of the river, with
the result that the corpse had risen to the surface.

The first step towards the detection of the murderer was to identify the
body, and trace back the victim's habits, acquaintances, and
surroundings. Here followed the marvellous mistake made by persons who
on the face of it could not be believed to be in error. A mass of
testimony was immediately forthcoming, all stating in the most explicit,
positive terms that the deceased was a certain John Dwire, well known in
Milwaukee. All who spoke did so definitely, declaring their reasons,
which appeared conclusive. They knew Dwire well, they recognised his
face and its features, his body, the colour of his hair and eyes. This
last was a weak point, however. Dwire was said to have only one eye; the
corpse had two. Although one had been nearly cut away by the axe stroke,
it was still hanging to the head. The witnesses were not to be silenced
by this discrepancy; they pointed triumphantly to other physical proofs:
a scar or burn mark on the left cheek, the size of a sixpence, "a
five-pointed starry scar" which all deposed that Dwire bore; again, he
had lost two front teeth--one in the upper, the other in the lower jaw,
just as was seen in the corpse; the whiskers, of the leg of mutton
pattern, were Dwire's; the bald head also, for hair was growing round
the base of the skull only, curly, and of a sandy hue, as in the case of
Dwire. There was a cut, made in shaving the chin, Dwire's; scars on one
finger of the left hand and on the thumb of the right hand, again
Dwire's; and a nose slightly inclined to one side, also Dwire's. Such
was the evidence of the witnesses, corroborating each other in every
particular, the testimony of people who had known him for years, the
woman of the house where he lodged, the keeper of the boarding-house
where he fed, whom he had not paid in full, the associates who worked
with him and frequented the same haunts.

Yet while the inquest before which these statements were made was
proceeding, unequivocal evidence was adduced which entirely falsified
the story as told. The John Dwire supposed to have been murdered was
alive and well at no great distance from Milwaukee. A whisper to this
effect had been put about, and some of the officials, another
deputy-sheriff, and the city marshal travelled to a point higher up the
river, some sixteen miles distant, where Dwire had been seen at work
since the discovery of his supposed corpse in the stream. He was living
near Kemper's Pier, and had been there uninterruptedly for months--since
the previous Christmas, indeed. Had the Court hesitated to accept this
startling news, all possible doubt must have disappeared by the next
incident. John Dwire himself walked into the court, saying with some
humour, "Lest anyone here should still think I'm dead I have come in
person to assure him that I am not the corpse found in the river last
Saturday morning."

His reappearance, of course, dumbfoundered all present, more
particularly those who had sworn so positively to his mortal remains. It
had another and more beneficial result: it saved an innocent man from
arrest and probable conviction. The first act of the police on the
mistaken identification of the body had been to commence a search in
certain low haunts where Dwire had at times been seen, and they had come
upon an axe recently used lying on a wood-pile in the possession of a
French sailor, commonly called "Matelot Jack," who was the bar tender of
a drinking-shop. The Frenchman had disappeared, but suspicion fell upon
another foreigner, a German, who was an associate of Dwire's, and had
accompanied him when the latter left Milwaukee. This German had come
into the lodging-house asking for Dwire's clothes; he came twice, the
second time armed with a letter from Dwire authorising him to receive
the clothes, but they were impounded for moneys owing. Steps were being
taken to arrest this German, and had not Dwire shown up it might have
gone hard with the suspected person. It had been in Dwire's mind at one
time to leave the neighbourhood, and had he done so the case against the
German would have been pretty complete.


That there had been a murder still remained self-evident, but it was
never positively known by whom it was committed, nor who was the actual
victim. Some years later a man was arrested on suspicion as a thief; he
was carrying a bag heavily laden, and it was found to contain a number
of copper articles, all of them stolen. The bag was inscribed with the
same name, "Vogt," as that picked up in the river. A farmer named Vogt
now came forward and stated that about the time of the picking up of the
unknown corpse he had sent his carter in with a load of wheat packed in
bags such as the two mentioned. The man was supposed to have delivered
his load, driven his team outside the city, the waggon filled with the
empty sacks, and then made off with the price of the wheat. A more
probable theory was that he had been murdered and rifled, his body being
then thrust into one of his own bags, which was thrown into the river.
The case was never carried through to the end, and neither the thief who
was caught with the second bag nor the French sailor, Matelot Jack, was
tried, presumably from want of sufficiently clear evidence to warrant


Our next case of mistaken identity occurred in Scotland many years ago,
when a farmer's son, a respectable youth, was charged with
night-poaching on the evidence of a keeper, who swore to him positively.
It was a moonlit night, but cloudy. Other witnesses were less certain
than the keeper, but they could speak to the poacher's dress and
appearance, and they saw him disappearing towards the farmer's house.

An attempt to set up an _alibi_ failed, and the prisoner, having been
found guilty by the jury, was sentenced to three months' imprisonment.
On his release, feeling that he was disgraced, he left the country to
take up a situation at the Cape of Good Hope.

Soon afterwards the keepers whose evidence had convicted the wrong man
met the real culprit in the streets of the county town. He was in
custody for theft, and was being escorted to the courts. His name was
Hammond. The keepers followed, and after a longer look were more than
ever satisfied of the mistake they had made, and they very rightly gave
information in the proper quarter. Then a witness came forward who, on
the night of the trespass, had seen and spoken with this man Hammond,
when he had said he was going into the woods for a shot. Hammond
himself, knowing he could not be tried for an offence for which another
had suffered, now voluntarily confessed the poaching. Great sympathy
was shown towards the innocent victim, and the gentleman whose game had
been killed offered to befriend him. But the young man had already made
for himself a position at the Cape of Good Hope, and would not leave the
colony, where indeed he eventually amassed a fortune. On his return to
Scotland, many years later, he was presented with a licence to shoot for
the rest of his days over the estates he was supposed to have poached.


We now come to the famous Kingswood Rectory case. On the 11th of June,
1861, Kingswood Rectory, in Surrey, was broken into, in the absence of
the family, and the caretaker murdered. The unfortunate woman was found
in her nightdress. She was tied with cords, and had been choked by a
sock used as a gag and stuffed halfway down her throat. There had been
no robbery; the house had been entered by a window in the basement, but
nothing was missing from it, although the whole place had been
ransacked. Trace enough was discovered to establish the identity of one
at least of the murderers. A packet of papers was found lying on the
floor of the room, and it had evidently dropped from the pocket of one
of the men.

This packet contained six documents: a passport made out in the name of
Karl Franz, of Schandau, in Saxony; a certificate of birth, and another
of baptism, both in the name of Franz; a begging letter with no address,
but signed Krohn; and a letter from Madame Titiens, the great singer, in
reply to an appeal for help. Besides these, there was a sheet of paper
on which were inscribed the addresses of many prominent personages; part
of the stock-in-trade of a begging-letter writer. All these papers
plainly implied that one of the criminal intruders into Kingswood
Rectory was a German. Moreover, within the last few days several German
tramps had been seen in the neighbourhood of Kingswood, one of whom
exactly answered to the description on the passport.

A few weeks later, a young German, in custody in London for a trifling
offence, was recognised as Karl Franz. He himself positively denied that
he was the man, but at last acknowledged that the documents found in
Kingswood Rectory were his property. He was, in due course, committed
for trial at the Croydon assizes. The prosecution seemed to hold very
convincing evidence against him. A Saxon police officer was brought
over, who identified him as Karl Franz, and swore that the various
certificates produced had been delivered to him on the 6th of April of
the same year. Another witness swore to Franz as one of the men seen in
the neighbourhood of the rectory on the 11th of June; while a third
deposed to having met two strangers in a wayside public-house, talking a
foreign language, and identified Franz as one of them. This recognition
was made in Newgate, where he picked out Franz from a crowd of
prisoners. Yet more: the servant of a brushmaker in Reigate deposed that
two men, speaking some unknown tongue, had come into the shop on the day
of the crime, and had bought a hank of cord. One of these men she firmly
believed to be the accused. This was the same cord as that with which
the murdered woman was bound.

What could the accused say to rebut such seemingly overwhelming
evidence? He had, nevertheless, a case, and a strong case. He explained
first that he had changed his name because he had been told of the
Kingswood murder, and of the discovery of his papers. They were
undoubtedly his papers, but they had been stolen from him. His story was
that he had landed at Hull, and was on the tramp to London, when he met
two other Germans by the way, seamen, Adolf Krohn and Muller by name,
and they all joined company. Muller had no papers, and was very anxious
that Karl Franz should give him his. On the borders of Northamptonshire
the three tramps spent the night behind a haystack. Next morning Franz
awoke to find himself alone; his companions had decamped, and his papers
were gone. He had been robbed also of a small bag containing a full suit
of clothes.

This story was discredited. It is a very old dodge for accused persons
to say that suspicious articles found on the scene of a crime had been
stolen from them. Yet Franz's statement was suddenly and unexpectedly
corroborated from an independent source. The day after he had told his
story, two vagrants, who were wandering on the confines of
Northamptonshire, came across some papers hidden in a heap of straw.
They took them to the nearest police-station, when it was found that
they bore upon the Kingswood case. One was a rough diary kept by the
prisoner Franz from the moment of his landing at Hull to the day on
which he lost his other papers. The inference was that it had been
stolen from him too, but that the thieves, on examination, found the
diary useless, and got rid of it. Another of the papers was a
certificate of confirmation in the name of Franz. Now, too, it was
proved beyond doubt that the letter written by Madame Titiens was not
intended for the accused. The recipient of that letter might no doubt
have been an accomplice of the accused, but then it must have been
believed that these men kept their papers together in one lot, which was
hardly likely.

[Illustration: Inspector.


Foot Gendarme.


Another curious point on which the prosecution relied also broke down. A
piece of cord had been found in Franz's lodgings, exactly corresponding
with that bought at Reigate, and used in tying the victim. But now it
was shown that this cord could only have been supplied to the Reigate
shop by one rope-maker, there being but one manufacturer of that kind of
cord; and this fact rested on the most positive evidence of experts.
Franz had declared that he had picked up this bit of cord in a street in
Whitechapel, near his lodgings, and opposite to a tobacconist's shop. On
further inquiry it was not only found that the rope factory which alone
supplied this cord was situated within a few yards of Franz's lodgings,
but his solicitor, in verifying this, picked up a scrap of the very same
cord in front of a shop in that same street!


A very narrow escape from wrongful conviction occurred in the case
generally known as the Cannon Street murder, which happened in April,
1866. Here the suspected murderer was tried for his life, and the
circumstantial evidence against him was so exceedingly strong that but
for a very able defence conducted before Mr. Baron Bramwell, one of the
strongest judges England has had, the prisoner would surely have been

A certain Sarah Milson was housekeeper at Messrs. Bevington's, the
well-known furriers and leather dressers of Cannon Street. She was a
widow, and had been employed by the firm for several years. It was her
duty to occupy the premises at night when the working hands had left the
house. She was not alone, for a female cook also lived on the premises.
It was the rule of the house that the porter, a man named Kit, should
lock the doors when the day's work was over, and hand over the keys,
including those of the safe, to Mrs. Milson.

On the night of the 11th of April, 1866, Kit performed this duty, and
then called upstairs through the speaking-tube to Mrs. Milson, who came
down to receive the keys. His last act was to extinguish the light in
the lobby, after which he was shown out of the front door by Mrs.

A little later the same evening the cook, who was upstairs in her
bedroom, heard a ring at the door-bell, and was on the point of
answering it when Mrs. Milson, who was sitting in the dining-room,
called out that the bell was for her, and she accordingly went down.
This was about ten minutes past nine. The unfortunate housekeeper was
never again seen alive. Later that night the cook, on going downstairs
with a lighted candle in her hand, found Mrs. Milson dead at the foot of
the stairs. The police were at once called in, and found that death was
caused by the battering in of the woman's head, and a large quantity of
blood was spattered over the stairs. A crowbar was found close to the
body, and was probably the instrument by which the murder had been
effected, although it was unstained with blood.


An inquiry was at once set on foot by the police, who ascertained
certain facts. First, the cook declared that a man came constantly to
call upon the housekeeper, that she herself had never seen the man, but
that on one occasion, just before his expected arrival, Mrs. Milson had
borrowed two sovereigns from her, which had afterwards been repaid. The
identity of this man was discovered next day when a letter was found in
one of the boxes of the deceased, signed "George Terry." This letter, a
claim made upon Mrs. Milson for the repayment of certain moneys she
owed, expressed great indignation, and threatened that unless Mrs.
Milson could offer satisfactory terms the writer would complain to Mr.
Bevington of his housekeeper's indebtedness. Attached to this letter was
a receipt signed "William Denton, on behalf of George Terry, 20, Old

It was not difficult to follow up George Terry from the address given,
and he was presently found as an inmate of St. Olave's Workhouse. He
readily told the story of his relations with Mrs. Milson. She had been
acquainted with his wife, and as she was in difficulties, he had helped
her to get a loan from a certain Mrs. Webber, the total amount being
£35. Mrs. Webber appears to have been very urgent about repayment, and
so Terry sent Mrs. Milson the letter which was found, but which he did
not write himself, having secured the services of a fellow-lodger whom
he knew by the name of Bill. "Bill" wrote the letter, went with it to
Cannon Street, signed the receipt for such money as he received, and
brought back the money. This had occurred some three months before. The
man calling himself Denton was then traced, and proved to be a certain
William Smith, who lived at Eton, at 6, Eton Square. The City detectives
who had charge of the case went at once to Eton with the letter and the
receipt, which were shown to William Smith and acknowledged to be in his

There was enough in this to warrant the man Smith's arrest on suspicion,
but the police soon had stronger evidence. A woman, Mrs. Robins, who
acted as housekeeper at No. 1, Cannon Street, volunteered some very
damaging information. She stated that on the night of the murder she
returned to No. 1 at ten minutes to ten. As she was on the point of
entering her house she heard the door of No. 2 violently slammed.
Looking round, she saw a man go down the steps and pass her on the
right. He was dressed in dark clothes and wore a tall hat. The light of
the hall lamp shone on the man's face, so that she was able to know it;
she noticed that he walked in a very hurried manner, leaning forward as
he went along. In order to see whether Mrs. Robins could identify this
man, William Smith was taken from Bow Street to the Mansion House
through Cannon Street. He was between two police officers, but there was
nothing to show that he was in custody. Mrs. Robins had been warned by
the police to stand at her door at the time the party passed, and she
was asked to say whether she could recognise her man. She made out Smith
without hesitation; but to strengthen her evidence, she was sent for to
the Mansion House, where the prisoner was placed amongst a number of
people in a room through which Mrs. Robins was invited to pass. As she
crossed the room for the second time she pointed to Smith and said,
"This is the man I saw in Cannon Street."

Another very damaging witness was a boat-builder, Henry Giles, of Eton,
who deposed that he met the prisoner Smith in an alehouse on the night
of the 11th of April. Giles asked Smith to play a game of dominoes, but
Smith replied that he had to travel forty miles that night. "How can you
do that?" asked Giles. "Easy enough," was the reply; "if I go to London
and back, that would make forty miles." Giles then said, "But you are
not going to London, are you?" and Smith replied, "Yes, I am," at which
Giles laughed and called him a liar. Another witness declared that he
had seen Smith hurrying towards Slough Station about 7 p.m. The prisoner
was said to be wearing dark clothes, a black coat, and a tall black hat.

The evidence of railway officials proved that a train had left Slough at
7.43 and reached Paddington at 8.40. There was also a train down at
10.45, which arrived at 11.43. It was said in evidence that the interval
of two hours was quite sufficient to allow Smith to go into the City by
the Metropolitan Railway, commit the crime in Cannon Street, and return
_viâ_ Bishop's Road to Paddington. Further evidence against the man
Smith consisted of spots upon his coat which were believed to be
blood-stains, but which he accounted for by alleging that he had cut
himself in shaving.

Here was a man of indifferent character, an idle ne'er-do-well, known to
have had dealings with the murdered woman, against whom very clear
circumstantial evidence had been adduced. He was shown to have said he
was going to London; he was seen close to the station where a train was
on the point of starting for London; he was recognised by a respectable
woman at just the time he could have reached the house in Cannon Street
had he travelled up to Paddington as alleged, and added to all this
there were the blood-stains on his coat.

Yet the whole case broke down on the production of the most complete and
unquestionable _alibi_. It was proved beyond all question that Smith did
not go to London from Slough by the 7.43 train. The prisoner admitted
that he had walked in the direction of Slough Station with the idea of
meeting a friend. But he was certainly in company with a man named
Harris in Eton Square a little before 6.30, and the two remained
together until ten minutes past ten.


A number of other witnesses corroborated this statement--a brazier, a
photographer, a gardener, a bootmaker, and so on. Ten or twelve men in
all had had Smith under their eyes through the whole of the time that he
was supposed to be killing the woman in Cannon Street. One had been
drinking with him, three others had played cards with him, an
alehouse-keeper's wife had served him with beer after 11 p.m.

It was altogether absurd to suppose that these witnesses had combined
to perjure themselves on behalf of Smith. But even if such a combination
had been possible, although no motive for it had been produced, there
was other evidence that spoke unconsciously for the prisoner. If Smith
had really committed the crime he would never have denied that he went
to London, as he did deny it; he would have made some excuse for his
going, feeling sure that the fact would be discovered. Another curious
fact was that, as he was undoubtedly at Eton at 7.30, he must have gone
at great speed to catch the 7.43 train at Slough, a full mile distant.
There was not the least necessity for it either, as the Windsor Station
was only a few yards from where he had been seen. A defence of this kind
was perfectly unanswerable; the judge summed up entirely in favour of
the prisoner, and directed the jury to find him not merely "Not guilty,"
but actually innocent of the crime.

I cannot leave this interesting case, in which there was nearly a
miscarriage of justice from mistaken circumstantial evidence, without
relating a curious fact within my own knowledge that grew out of this
murder. In December, 1869, when I was acting as Controller of the
Convict Prison at Gibraltar, a convict came before the Visitors who
appeared under strong emotion, and who told me in a broken voice, with
tears in his eyes, that he wished to give himself up as one of the
Cannon Street murderers. I cannot remember the man's name, but I will
call him X. After hearing what he had to say, the Visitors asked him
what had induced him to make this confession. "Because," said he, "I
didn't do the job alone. My accomplice, Y" (as I will call him), "has
just come out in the last draft from England. I have not yet spoken to
him, but I am greatly afraid that he might forestall me in my
confession." The man spoke with such evident contrition and good faith
that the Visitors felt bound to accept his story; but they sent for the
other, meaning to confront them.

Y started violently when he came into our presence and saw X standing
there, but he positively denied his complicity in the murder. For some
time, too, he refused to acknowledge that he knew X, and then followed a
strange altercation between the two, X earnestly imploring Y to make a
clean breast of it, as he himself had done; Y as stoutly repudiating all
connection with the matter. Just when we had made up our minds to
dismiss both the men and report the case home for instructions, Y's
better nature seemed to triumph, and he admitted thus tardily that he
had been concerned in the murder of Mrs. Milson. Our next step was to
order both men into separate and solitary confinement until instructions
could be received from home. We fully expected to hear in due course
that both men were to be sent home to stand their trial for the Cannon
Street murder.

I am not ashamed to confess that we had been completely humbugged. A
full and searching inquiry had been instituted by the Home Office
authorities, more particularly into the antecedents and movements of the
two convicts, and it was established beyond all doubt that neither of
them could have possibly committed the crime, seeing that both were in
custody for another offence on the day of the murder. I am free to admit
that in the many years I have since spent in the charge and control of
criminals, I have been very loath, after this experience, to accept
confessions, although I have had many made to me. Mine is not a singular
experience, as most police and prison officials will say. Indeed, the
general public themselves must have noticed that there are few
mysterious crimes committed which are not confessed to by persons who
could not possibly have been guilty. In the case of X and Y, the whole
trick had been devised for the simple purpose of escaping daily labour
and gaining a few weeks' complete idleness in the cells.

False confessions, it may be added, are a frequent source of trouble to
the police. Whenever some great criminal mystery has shocked the public
mind, silly people, whether from constant brooding over the fact or from
sheer imbecility, are driven to surrender themselves as the criminals.
It will be remembered that at the time of the Whitechapel murders
numbers of people stood self-confessed as the perpetrators of these
crimes, eager to take upon themselves the criminal identity of the
mysterious "Jack the Ripper." I have recorded elsewhere[7] a curious
case in which a lady of good position, married, having many children and
a perfectly happy home, became possessed with the idea that she had
committed murder--that of a soldier in garrison in the town where she
lived. At length she wrote to Scotland Yard, and made full confession of
her crime, adding that she meant to arrive in London next day, where she
was prepared to submit herself to arrest, trial, and whatever penalty
might be imposed. All she asked was that she might not be separated from
her children, and that if they could not accompany her to gaol they
might at least be permitted to visit her frequently. Next day she
arrived as she had threatened, and drove up to Scotland Yard in a cab,
herself and children inside, her portmanteaux and a huge bath on the
box. There she sat, and positively refused to move anywhere except to
gaol. The police authorities, after vainly arguing with her, were on the
point of taking charge of her as a wandering lunatic, and sending her
home, but the Assistant Commissioner hit upon a happy device for getting
rid of her. This was to tell her that if she went to gaol she must be
separated absolutely from her children. If, however, she would sign a
paper promising to appear whenever called upon, she might remain with
her children in her own home. The ruse was successful; she signed the
promise, and returned as she had come.



An innocent man narrowly escaped death through an artful plot which led
to a mistake of identity, but which fortunately, at the eleventh hour,
was brought home to its criminal contrivers. A certain Mr. Henderson, a
respectable merchant of Edinburgh, was in 1726 charged with the forgery
of an acceptance, signed by the Duchess of Gordon, although, as a matter
of fact, he was ignorant of the whole affair. In the year mentioned it
was discovered that a man named Petrie, who filled the post of town
officer or constable in Leith, held a bill for £58 which purported on
the face of it to have been drawn by George Henderson on the Duchess of
Gordon, accepted by her, and paid over by Henderson to a Mrs. Macleod.
This Mrs. Macleod owed a sum of money to Petrie, and she begged him for
a further advance, which he made, to the amount of £6, Mrs. Macleod
lodging with him as security the acceptance which she had received from
Henderson. Petrie took no action on the bill in the way of demanding
payment from the Duchess of Gordon; this was at the instance of Mrs.
Macleod, who assured him that her Grace was at that time engaged in
special devotional exercises, and that the Duchess's agent was absent
from Edinburgh. Petrie was put off with other excuses. Mrs. Macleod
continued to beg him to hold over the bill, and brought him a letter to
the same effect purporting to come from Henderson. Petrie, although
suspicious as to the genuineness of the bill, took no steps, and the
matter came out otherwise; whereupon the Edinburgh magistrates issued a
warrant for the arrest of the three parties--Petrie, Henderson, and Mrs.
Macleod. Petrie was almost immediately exonerated, but Mrs. Macleod gave
such evidence against Henderson that he was held to be fully
incriminated, and was put back for trial. Mrs. Macleod asserted
positively that the bill had been given her by Henderson.

In due course Henderson was arraigned. Several witnesses swore
positively that they had seen Henderson sign documents, especially an
acknowledgment of a debt to Mrs. Macleod. One, a man named Gibson,
declared that the signature had been given in his own house by
Henderson, and in his presence and that of other witnesses. He appears
to have identified Henderson in the dock, asserting that he had often
previously seen him and been in his company. Gibson further declared
that Henderson wore a suit of dark-coloured clothes, and a black wig
such as he now appeared in.

Henderson's defence was that he knew absolutely nothing of the whole
proceeding. His counsel adduced in his favour that he was a man of
excellent character, and his demeanour at the trial, his straightforward
answers to all interrogatories, and the outward appearance of truth in
all his details, no doubt made an impression upon the Court. The Lord
Advocate, his prosecutor, pressed hard for a conviction, on the ground
that the forgery of the bill had been fully proved. The judges, however,
stayed proceedings, and postponed decision until the following session.

Now, when the case looked blackest against Henderson, a mere chance
interposed to save him. The Lord Advocate, who seems to have had no
doubt of his guilt, was on his way northward to spend the recess, when
he paid a visit on the way to a Mr. Rose, of Kilravock. One day Mr. Rose
took his lordship to see a house he was building, and while inspecting
it Mr. Rose missed one of the carpenters. On inquiring what had become
of him, the foreman took Mr. Rose aside and privately told him that the
man, hearing the Lord Advocate was at Kilravock, had absconded, saying
it was time for him to leave the country. The man in question, by name
David Household, had gone to the coast, proposing to take ship for
London. Mr. Rose felt it his duty to inform the Lord Advocate, and the
foreman was questioned as to whether the carpenter had been guilty of
any crime. The answer was that Household was suspected of being
accessory to a forgery. The Lord Advocate forthwith despatched a
messenger to the coast, who apprehended Household, and carried him
prisoner to Edinburgh. Household was brought before the Court at the
beginning of the winter session and questioned, when he confessed that
he had been party to a very scandalous and deliberate fraud. Early in
the year Mrs. Macleod had come to him and asked him to write out for her
the very bill or acceptance for the forgery of which George Henderson
was charged. Household admitted that he had penned the whole document,
and had imitated the signatures of Henderson, both as drawer and
endorser of the bill, but that he had not written the name of Gordon.
Household further deposed that he had assumed, at Mrs. Macleod's
request, the identity of George Henderson; that she had given him for
the personation a coat belonging to her husband, and a black-knotted
periwig; that she had carried him to a gardener's house at the
Water-Gate, where she had dictated to him a part of the obligation which
had been produced in court; and had then taken him on to a house in the
Canon-Gate (Gibson's), where he (Household) had written the rest of the
document, and signed it

ROBE" (p. 128).]

"George Henderson" in the presence of the various witnesses whom Mrs.
Macleod had produced. He also confessed that he had written the letter
which Mrs. Macleod had given Petrie as coming from George Henderson.
Finally, after Mrs. Macleod's arrest, a Highlander had come to him with
a message from Mr. Macleod urging him to leave the country for his own
safety. Household, however, did not take flight until the appearance of
the Lord Advocate at Kilravock; then he went to Leith, and hid himself
on board ship, where he was discovered by a Customs officer, and
eventually arrested.

This evidence changed the whole character of the trial, and the Lord
Advocate was the first to admit that Henderson was innocent of the
forgery, which was now fixed upon Mrs. Macleod. The records of the case
do not give any definite information as to who actually signed the
Duchess's name to the bill, but when Mrs. Macleod was finally arraigned
this forgery was laid to her charge, and her offence must have been
satisfactorily proved to the jury, for she was found guilty and
sentenced to death. Two law officers, the Lord Advocate and the
Solicitor-General, characterised the whole "as an artful and horrid
contrivance, only discovered by the good providence of God." It is
stated in the account published that Mrs. Macleod went to her execution
dressed in a black robe with a large hoop, and a white fan in her hand.
When on the gallows she herself took off the ornamental parts of her
dress, and put the fatal cord about her neck with her own hands. She
persisted to the last in denying her guilt.

The Duchess of Gordon in this case was Lady Henrietta Mordaunt, daughter
of the celebrated Charles Earl of Peterborough, and wife of Alexander,
second Duke, whom she married in 1706, twenty years before the
occurrences recorded.




     Captain Donellan and the Poisoning of Sir Theodosius Boughton:
     Donellan's Suspicious Conduct: Evidence of John Hunter, the great
     Surgeon: Sir James Stephen's View: Corroborative Story from his
     Father--The Lafarge Case: Madame Lafarge and the Cakes: Doctors
     differ as to the Presence of Arsenic in the Remains: Possible Guilt
     of Denis Barbier: Madame Lafarge's Condemnation: Pardoned by
     Napoleon III.--Charge against Madame Lafarge of stealing a School
     Friend's Jewels: Her Defence: Conviction--Madeleine Smith charged
     with Poisoning her _Fiancé:_ "Not proven": the Latest Facts--the
     Wharton-Ketchum Case in Baltimore, U.S.A.--The Story of the Perrys.


"Few cases," says Sir James Stephen,[8] "have given rise to more
discussion than that of the alleged poisoning of Sir Theodosius Boughton
by his brother-in-law, Captain Donellan, in 1781." It was long deemed a
mystery, and even now the facts are not considered conclusive against
the man who actually suffered for the crime. Donellan was found guilty,
and in due course executed, but to this day the justice of the sentence
is questioned, and the case, in the opinion of some, should be classed
with judicial errors. This is not the view of Sir James Stephen, who has
declared that the evidence would have satisfied him of Donellan's guilt.
"Why should he not have been found guilty?" asks the eminent judge. "He
had the motive, he had the means, he had the opportunity; his conduct,
from first to last, was that of a guilty man."

Sir Theodosius Boughton was a young baronet who, on his majority, came
into an estate of £2,000 a year. In 1780 he was living at Lawford Hall,
Warwickshire, with his mother and sister, the latter having married
Captain Donellan in 1777. Mrs. Donellan was her brother's heir; if he
died childless everything would go to her. Donellan claimed afterwards
to have been quite disinterested. He had all his wife's fortune settled
on her and her children, and would not even keep a life interest in her
property in case she predeceased him. This settlement extended not only
to what she had but to what she expected, and his conduct in this matter
was one of the points made by the defence in his favour.


(_From a Contemporary Print._)]

Boughton was suffering from a slight specific disorder, but was
otherwise well; Donellan wished to make it appear otherwise. Talking of
him to a friend, he described his condition as such that the friend
remarked the young man's life would not be worth a couple of years'
purchase. "Not one," promptly corrected Donellan. On the 29th of August,
1780, a country practitioner who was called in pronounced Sir Theodosius
in good health and spirits, but prescribed a draught for him: jalap,
lavender water, nutmeg, and so forth. The remainder of the day was spent
in fishing, and the baronet went to bed, having arranged that his mother
should come to him and give him his medicine at seven o'clock next
morning. He had been neglectful about taking it; it had been kept locked
up in a cupboard, but, at his brother-in-law's suggestion, it was now
left on the shelf in another room--where, as the prosecution declared,
anyone, Captain Donellan in particular, might have access to it.

At six a.m. on the morning of the 30th a servant went in and saw Sir
Theodosius about some business of mending a net. The young baronet then
appeared quite well. At seven Lady Boughton came up with the medicine,
which she found on the shelf. Sir Theodosius tasted and smelt it,
complaining that it was very nauseous. His mother then smelt it, and
noticed that it was like bitter almonds, but she persuaded her son to
drink off a whole dose. "In about two minutes or less," she afterwards
deposed, "he struggled violently and appeared convulsed, with a
prodigious rattling in his throat and stomach." When he was a little
better the mother left him, but returned in five minutes to find him
with his eyes fixed, his teeth clenched, and froth running out of his

The doctor was forthwith summoned. Now Donellan came in, and Lady
Boughton told him that she was afraid she had given her son something
wrong instead of the medicine. Donellan asked for the bottle, took it,
poured in some water, then emptied the contents into a basin. Lady
Boughton protested, declaring that he ought not to have meddled with the
bottle. Donellan's reply was that he wished to taste the stuff. Again,
when a maid-servant came in he desired her to remove the basin and the
bottles, while Lady Boughton directed her to let them alone. But now Sir
Theodosius was in his death-throes, and while she was engaged with him
the bottles disappeared.

Donellan, after the event, wrote to the baronet's guardian, Sir William
Wheler, notifying the death, but giving none of the peculiar
circumstances of the case. Three or four days later the guardian replied
that as the death had been so sudden, and gossip was afloat concerning a
possible mistake with the medicine, it was desirable to have a
_post-mortem._ "The country will never be satisfied else, and we shall
all be very much blamed," wrote Sir William Wheler. "Although it is late
now it will appear from the stomach whether there is anything corrosive
in it.... I assure you it is reported all over the country that he was
killed either by medicine or by poison." The step was all the more
necessary in the interest of the doctor who prescribed the draught.
Donellan replied that Lady Boughton and he agreed "cheerfully" to the
suggestion. Sir William wrote again, saying he was glad they approved,
and gave the names of the doctors who should perform the autopsy.

When they came, Donellan showed them the second letter, not the first;
the mere desire for a _post-mortem_, not the grounds for it, as set
forth in the first, that poison was suspected. Decomposition was far
advanced, the doctors were not pleased with the business, and, knowing
no special reason for inquiry, made none. After this Donellan wrote to
Sir William Wheler, conveying the impression that the _post-mortem_ had
actually taken place. Later, another surgeon offered to open the body,
but Donellan refused, on the plea that it would be disrespectful to the
two first doctors. Sir William, too, having learnt that nothing had been
done, reiterated his desire for a _post-mortem_, and two more doctors
arrived at Lawford Hall on the very day of the funeral. Donellan took
advantage of a misconstruction of a message, and the body was buried
without being opened.

Three days afterwards it was exhumed in deference to growing suspicions
of poison, but it was too late to verify foul play. But the doctors
formed a strong opinion of the cause of death, and later, when it came
to the trial, they agreed that the draught, after swallowing which
Boughton died, was poison, and the immediate cause of death. One said
that the nature of the poison was sufficiently clear from Lady
Boughton's description of the smell. But the great surgeon, John Hunter,
would not admit that the appearance of the body gave the least suspicion
of poison. As to the smell, a mixture of the very same ingredients, but
with laurel water added, was made up for Lady Boughton at the trial, and
she declared it smelt of bitter almonds exactly like the draught.

The introduction of the laurel water followed the important discovery
that Donellan had a private still in a room which he called his own, and
that he distilled roses in it. A curious bit of evidence not mentioned
in the report of the trial is preserved,[9] which shows how a single
number of the "Philosophical Transactions" was found in Donellan's
library, and the only leaves in the book that had been cut were those
that gave an account of the making of laurel water by distillation.
Donellan's still figured further in the case, for it was proved that he
had taken it into the kitchen, and asked the cook to dry it in the oven.
This was two or three days after the baronet's death, and the
presumption was that he had desired to take the smell of laurel water
off the still. It also appeared that Donellan was in the habit of
keeping large quantities of arsenic in his room, which he used,
seemingly with but little caution, for poisoning fish.

Donellan's defence did not help him greatly. It was written, after the
custom of those days, and did not attempt to explain why

[Illustration: "NOW DONELLAN CAME IN" (p. 131).]

he had washed or made away with the bottles. He submitted that he had
urged the doctors to the _post-mortem_ by producing Sir William Wheler's
letter; but it was the second, not the first letter. On other points he
maintained a significant silence. What went against him also were
unguarded confidences made to a fellow-prisoner while he was awaiting
trial. He said openly that he believed his brother-in-law had been
poisoned, and that it lay among themselves: Lady Boughton, himself, the
footman, and the doctor. Another curious story is preserved by Sir James
Stephen, whose grandfather had long retained a strong belief in
Donellan's innocence, and had written a pamphlet against the verdict
which attracted much notice at the time. Mr. Stephen changed his opinion
when he had been introduced to Donellan's attorney, who told him that he
also had firmly believed in Donellan's innocence until one day he
proposed to his client to retain Dunning, the eminent counsel, for his
defence. Donellan agreed, and referred the attorney to Mrs. Donellan for
authority to incur the expense of the heavy fee required. Mrs. Donellan
demurred, thinking the outlay unnecessary, and when this was reported to
the prisoner, Donellan burst into a rage, crying, "And who got it for
her?" Then, seeing that he had committed himself, he stopped abruptly,
and said no more.

Donellan was convicted and executed, and to those who aver that the
verdict was wrong Sir James Stephen replies that every item of evidence
pointed to Donellan's guilt, and did, in fact, satisfy the jury. The
want of complete proof is the chief basis of the argument in Donellan's
favour, backed by the opinion of so eminent a scientist as Hunter. He
deposed that he did not see the slightest indication of poisoning, and
while he admitted that death following so soon after the draught had
been swallowed was a curious fact, yet he could see no necessary
connection between the two circumstances. The symptoms, as described to
him, and the state of the internal organs, were perfectly compatible
with death from epilepsy or apoplexy. Public opinion at the time was, no
doubt, adverse to Donellan, and the jury may have been prejudiced
against him. He was deemed an adventurer, a fortune-hunter, who had
gained a footing in a good family by somewhat discreditable means, and
it was assumed that he was prepared to go any length to feather his nest

This was a rather exaggerated view. Donellan was a gentleman. He had
borne the king's commission, and was a son of a colonel in the army. To
haunt fashionable society in London and the chief pleasure resorts in
search of a rich _partie_ was a common enough proceeding, and implied
self-seeking, but not necessarily criminal tendencies. He got his chance
at Bath by doing a civil thing, and made the most of it. Lady Boughton
was unable to find accommodation in the best hotel, and Donellan, who
was there, promptly gave up his rooms. The acquaintance thus pleasantly
begun grew into intimacy, and ended in his marrying Miss Boughton. So
far the circumstances were not very strong against him. It was his
conduct after the event that told, and, though there is an element of
doubt in the case, most people, probably, who review the facts will come
to the same conclusion as did Sir James Stephen.


One of the greatest poisoning trials on record in any country is that of
Madame Lafarge, and its interest is undying, for to this day the case is
surrounded by mystery. Although the guilt of the accused was proved to
the satisfaction of the jury at the time of trial, strong doubts were
then entertained, and still possess acute legal minds, as to the justice
of her conviction. Long after the event, two eminent Prussian jurists,
councillors of the criminal court of Berlin, closely studied the
proceedings, and gave it as their unqualified opinion that, according to
Prussian law, there was absence of proof. They published a report on the
case, in which they gave their reasons for this opinion, but it will be
best to give some account of the alleged poisoning before quoting the
arguments of these independent authorities.

In the month of January, 1840, an iron-master, residing at Glandier, in
the Limousin, died suddenly of an unknown malady. His family, friends,
and immediate neighbours at once accused his wife of having poisoned
him. This wife differed greatly in disposition and breeding from the
deceased. Marie Fortunée Capelle was the daughter of a French artillery
colonel, who had served in Napoleon's Guard. She was well connected, her
grandmother having been a fellow-pupil of the Duchess of Orleans under
Madame de Genlis; her aunts were well married, one to a Prussian
diplomat, the other to M. Garat, the general secretary of the Bank of
France. She had been delicately nurtured. Her father had held good
military commands, and was intimate with the best people, many of them
nobles of the First Empire, and the child was petted by the Duchess of
Dalmatia (Madame Soult), the Princess of Echmuhl (Madame Ney), Madame de
Cambacères, and so forth.

Colonel Capelle died early, and Marie's mother, having married again,
also died. Marie was left to the care of distant relations; she had a
small fortune of her own, which was applied to her education, and she
was sent to one of the best schools in Paris. Here she made bosom
friends, as schoolgirls do, and with one of them became involved in a
foolish intrigue, which, in the days of her trouble, brought upon her
another serious charge, that of theft. Marie grew up distinguished-looking
if not absolutely pretty; tall, slim, with dead-white complexion,
jet-black hair worn in straight shining pleats, fine dark eyes, and a
sweet but somewhat sad smile. These are the chief features of
contemporary portraits.

To marry her was now the wish of her people, and she was willing enough
to become independent. Some say that a suitor was sought through the
matrimonial agents, others positively deny it. In any case, a proposal
came from a certain Charles Pouch Lafarge, a man of decent family but
inferior to the Capelles, not much to look at, about thirty, and
supposed to be prosperous in his business. The marriage was hastily
arranged, and as quickly solemnised--in no more than five days. Lafarge
drew a rosy picture of his house: a large mansion in a wide park, with
beautiful views, where all were eager to welcome the bride and make her
happy. As they travelled thither the scales quickly fell from Marie's
eyes. Her new husband changed in tone; from beseeching he became rudely
dictatorial, and he seems to have soon wounded the delicate
susceptibilities of his wife.

The climax was reached on arrival at Glandier, a dirty, squalid place.
Threading its dark, narrow streets, they reached the mansion--only a
poor place, after all, surrounded with smoking chimneys: a cold, damp,
dark house, dull without, bare within. The shock was terrible, and
Madame Lafarge declared she had been cruelly deceived. Life in such
surroundings, tied to such a man, seemed utterly impossible. She fled to
her own room, and there indited a strange letter to her husband, a
letter that was the starting-point of suspicion against her, and which
she afterwards explained away as merely a first mad outburst of
disappointment and despair. Her object was to get free at all costs from
this hateful and unbearable marriage.

This letter, dated the 25th of August, 1839, began thus: "CHARLES,--I am
about to implore pardon on my knees. I have betrayed you culpably. I
love not you, but another...." And it continued in the same tone for
several sheets. Then she implored her husband to release her and let her
go that very evening. "Get two horses ready: I will ride to Bordeaux and
then take ship to Smyrna. I will leave you all my possessions. May God
turn them to your advantage--you deserve it. As for me, I will live by
my own exertions. Let no one know that I ever existed.... If this does
not satisfy you I will take arsenic--_I have some_.... Spare me, be the
guardian angel of a poor orphan girl, or, if you choose, slay me, and
say I have killed myself.--MARIE."

[Illustration: MADAME LAFARGE.

(_From a Contemporary Print_.)]

This strange effusion was read with consternation not only by Lafarge,
but by his mother, his sister, and her husband. A stormy scene followed
between Lafarge and his wife, but at length he won her over. She
withdrew her letter, declaring that she did not mean what she wrote, and
that she would do her best to make him happy. "I have accepted my
position," she wrote to M. Garat, "although it is difficult. But with a
little strength of mind, with patience, and my husband's love, I may
grow contented. Charles adores me, and I cannot but be touched by the
caresses lavished on me." To another she wrote that she struggled hard
to be satisfied with her life. Her husband under a rough shell possessed
a noble heart; her mother-in-law and sister-in-law overwhelmed her with
attentions. Now she gradually settled down into domesticity, and busied
herself with household affairs.

M. Lafarge made no secret of his wish to employ part of his wife's
fortune in developing his works. He had come upon an important discovery
in iron smelting, and only needed capital to make it highly profitable.
His wife was so persuaded of the value of this invention that she lent
him money, and used her influence with her relatives to secure a loan
for him in addition. Husband and wife now made wills whereby they
bequeathed their separate estates to each other. Lafarge, however, made
a second will, almost immediately, in favour of his mother and sister,
carefully concealing the fact from his wife. Then he started for Paris,
to secure a patent for his new invention, taking with him a general
power of attorney to raise money on his wife's property. During their
separation many affectionate letters passed between them.

The first attempt to poison, according to the prosecution, was made at
the time of this visit to Paris. Madame Lafarge now conceived the tender
idea of having her portrait painted, and sending it to console her
absent spouse. At the same time she asked her mother-in-law to make some
small cakes to accompany the picture. They were made and sent, with a
letter, written by the mother, at Marie Lafarge's request, begging
Lafarge to eat _one_ of the cakes at a particular hour on a particular
day. She would eat one also at Glandier at the same moment, and thus a
mysterious affinity might be set up between them.

A great deal turned on this incident. The case containing the picture
and the rest was despatched on the 16th of December, by _diligence_, and
reached Paris on the 18th. But on opening the box, one large cake was
found, not several small ones. How and when had the change been
effected? The prosecution declared it was Marie's doing. The box had
undoubtedly been tampered with; it left, or was supposed to leave,
Glandier fastened down with small screws. On reaching Paris it was
secured with long nails, and the articles inside were not placed as they
had been on departure. Lafarge tore off a corner of the large cake, ate
it, and the same night was seized with violent convulsions. It was
presumably a poisoned cake, although the fact was never verified, but
Marie Lafarge was held responsible for it, and eventually charged with
an attempt to murder her husband.

In support of this grave charge it was found that on the 12th of
December, two days before the box left, she had purchased a quantity of
arsenic from a chemist in the neighbouring town. Her letter asking for
it was produced at the trial, and it is worth reproducing. "Sir," she
wrote, "I am overrun with rats. I have tried nux vomica quite without
effect. Will you, and can you, trust me with a little arsenic? You may
count upon my being most careful, and I shall only use it in a linen
closet." At the same time she asked for other drugs, of a harmless

Further suspicious circumstances were adduced against her. It was urged
that after the case had been despatched to Paris she was strangely
agitated, her excitement increasing on the arrival of news that her
husband was taken ill, that she expressed the gravest fears of a bad
ending, and took it almost for granted that he must die. Yet, as the
defence presently showed, there were points also in her favour. Would
Marie have made her mother-in-law write referring to the small cakes,
one of which the son was to eat, if she knew that no small cakes, but
one large one, would be found within? How could she have substituted the
large for the small? There was as much evidence to show that she could
not have effected the exchange as that she had done so. Might not
someone else have made the change? Here was the first importation of
another possible agency into the murder, which never seems to have been
investigated at the time, but to which I shall return presently to
explain how Marie Lafarge may have borne the brunt of another person's
crime. Again, if she wanted thus to poison her husband, it would have
been at the risk of injuring her favourite sister also. For this sister
lived in Paris, and Lafarge had written that she often called to see
him. She might, then, have been present when the case was opened, and
might have been poisoned too.

Lafarge so far recovered that he was able to return to Glandier, which
he reached on the 5th of January, 1840. That same day Madame Lafarge
wrote to the same chemist for more arsenic. It was a curious letter, and
certainly calculated to prejudice people against her. She told the
chemist that her servants had made the first lot into a clever paste
which her doctor had seen, and for which he had given her a
prescription; she said this "so as to quiet the chemist's conscience,
and lest he should think she meant to poison the whole province of
Limoges." She also informed the chemist that her husband was
indisposed, but that this same doctor attributed it to the shaking of
the journey, and that with rest he would soon be better.

But he got worse, rapidly worse. His symptoms were alarming, and pointed
undoubtedly to arsenical poisoning, judged by our modern knowledge.
Madame Lafarge, senior, now became strongly suspicious of her
daughter-in-law, and insisted on remaining always by her son's bedside.
Marie opposed this, and wished to be her husband's sole nurse, and,
according to the prosecution, would have kept everyone else from him.
She does not seem to have succeeded, for the relatives and servants were
constantly in the sick-room. Some of the latter were very much on the
mother's side, and one, a lady companion, Anna Brun, afterwards deposed
that she had seen Marie go to a cupboard and take a white powder from
it, which she mixed with the medicine and food given to Lafarge. Madame
Lafarge, senior, again, and her daughter, showed the medical attendant a
cup of chicken broth on the surface of which white powder was floating.
The doctor said it was probably lime from the whitewashed wall. The
ladies tried the experiment of mixing lime with broth, and did not
obtain the same appearance. Yet more, Anna Brun, having seen Marie
Lafarge mix powder as before in her husband's drink, heard him cry out,
"What have you given me? It burns like fire." "I am not surprised,"
replied Marie quietly. "They let you have wine, although you are
suffering from inflammation of the stomach."

Yet Marie Lafarge made no mystery of her having arsenic. Not only did
she speak of it in the early days, but during the illness she received a
quantity openly before them all. It was brought to her at Lafarge's
bedside by one of his clerks, Denis Barbier (of whom more directly), and
she put it into her pocket. She told her husband she had it. He had been
complaining of the rats that disturbed him overhead, and the arsenic was
to kill them. Lafarge took the poison from his wife, handed it over to a
maid-servant, and desired her to use it in a paste as a vermin-killer.
Here the facts were scarcely against Marie Lafarge.

As the husband did not improve, on the 13th his mother sent a special
messenger to fetch a new doctor from a more distant town. On their way
back to Glandier, this messenger, the above-mentioned Denis Barbier,
confided to the doctor that he had often bought

LAFARGE" (p. 142).]

arsenic for Marie Lafarge, but that she had begged him to say nothing
about it. The doctor, Lespinasse by name, saw the patient, and
immediately ordered antidotes, while some of the white powder was sent
for examination to the chemist who had originally supplied the arsenic.
The chemist does not seem to have detected poison, but he suggested that
nothing more should be given Lafarge unless it had been prepared by a
sure hand.

On this the mother denounced Marie to the now dying Lafarge as his
murderess. The wife, who stood there with white face and streaming eyes,
heard the terrible accusation, but made no protest. From this time till
his last moments he could not bear the sight of his wife. Once, when she
offered him a drink, he motioned, horror stricken, for her to leave him,
and she was not present at his death, on the 14th of January. A painful
scene followed between the mother and Marie by the side of the still
warm corpse--high words, upbraidings, threats on the one side, indignant
denials on the other. Then Marie's private letters were seized, the lock
of her strong-box having been forced, and next day, the whole matter
having been reported to the officers of the law, a _post-mortem_ was
ordered, on suspicion of poisoning. "Impossible," cried the doctor who
had regularly attended the deceased. "You must all be wrong. It would be
abominable to suspect a crime without more to go upon." The
_post-mortem_ was, however, made, yet with such strange carelessness
that the result was valueless.

It may be stated at once that the presence of arsenic was never
satisfactorily proved. There were several early examinations of the
remains, but the experts never fully agreed. Orfila, the most eminent
French toxicologist of his day, was called in to correct the first
autopsy, and his opinion was accepted as final. He was convinced that
there were traces of arsenic in the body. They were, however,
infinitesimal; Orfila put it at half a milligramme. Raspail, another
distinguished French doctor, called it the hundredth part of a
milligramme, and for that reason declared against Orfila. His
conclusion, arrived at long after her conviction, was in favour of the
accused. The jury, he maintained, ought not to have found her guilty,
because no definite proof was shown of the presence of arsenic in the

This point was not the only one in the poor woman's favour. Even
supposing that Lafarge had been poisoned--which, in truth, is highly
probable--the evidence against her was never conclusive, and there were
many suspicious circumstances to incriminate another person. This was
Denis Barbier, Lafarge's clerk, who lived in the house under a false
name, and whose character was decidedly bad. Lafarge was not a man above
suspicion himself, and he long used this Barbier to assist him in shady
financial transactions--the manufacture of forged bills of exchange,
which were negotiated for advances. Barbier had conceived a strong
dislike to Marie Lafarge from the first; it was he who originated the
adverse reports. At the trial he frequently contradicted himself, as
when he said at one time that he had volunteered the information that he
had been buying arsenic for Marie, and at another, a few minutes later,
that he only confessed this when pressed.

Barbier, then, was Lafarge's confederate in forgery; had these frauds
been discovered he would have shared Lafarge's fate. It came out that he
had been in Paris when Lafarge was there, but secretly. Why? When the
illness of the iron-master proved mortal, Barbier was heard to say, "Now
I shall be master here!" All through that illness he had access to the
sick-room, and he could easily have added poison to the various drinks
given to Lafarge. Again, when the possibilities of murder were first
discussed, he was suspiciously ready to declare that it was not _he_ who
gave the poison. Finally, the German jurists, already quoted, wound up
their argument against him by saying, "We do not actually accuse
Barbier, but had we been the public prosecutors we should rather have
formulated charges against him than against Madame Lafarge."

Summing up the whole question, they were of opinion that the case was
full of mystery. There were suspicions that Lafarge had been poisoned,
but so vague and uncertain that no conviction was justified. The proofs
against the person accused were altogether insufficient. On the other
hand, there were many conjectures favourable to her. Moreover, there was
the very gravest circumstantial evidence against another person. The
verdict should decidedly have been "Not proven." But public opinion,
hastily formed, condemned Madame Lafarge in advance, and the machinery
of the French criminal law helped to create a new judicial error,
through obstinate reliance on a preconceived opinion.

Marie Lafarge was sentenced to hard labour for life, after exposure in
the public pillory. The latter was remitted, but she went into the
Montpelier prison and remained there many years. During her seclusion
she received some six thousand letters from outside, the bulk of them
sympathetic and kindly. Many in prose or verse, and in several
languages, were signed by persons of the highest respectability. A large
number offered marriage, some the opportunities for escape and the
promise of happiness in another country. She replied to almost all with
her own hand. Her pen was her chief solace during her long imprisonment,
and several volumes of her work were eventually published, including her
memoirs and prison thoughts. At last, having suffered seriously in
health, she appealed to Napoleon III., the head of the Second Empire,
and obtained a full pardon in 1852.


(_From the Engraving by Victor Adam._)]


The sad story of Madame Lafarge would be incomplete without some account
of another mysterious charge brought against her shortly after her
arrest for murder. When her mother-in-law accused her of poisoning her
husband, one of her old schoolmates declared that she had stolen her
jewels. This second allegation raised the public interest to fever
pitch. All France, from court to cottage, all classes, high and low,
were concerned in this great _cause célèbre_, in which the supposed
criminal, both thief and murderess, belonged to the best society, and
was a young, engaging woman. The question of her guilt or innocence was
keenly discussed. Each new fact or statement was taken as clear proof of
one or the other, and each side found warm advocates in the public

[Illustration: MAÎTRE LACHAUD.]

The charge of theft, although the lesser, took precedence of that of
murder, and Madame Lafarge was tried by the Correctional Tribunal of
Tulle before she appeared at the assizes to answer for her life. She was
prosecuted by the Vicomte de Leautaud on behalf of his wife. The
accusation was clear and precise. Madame de Leautaud's diamonds had
disappeared for more than a year; the Vicomte believed that Madame
Lafarge, when Marie Capelle, had stolen them when on a visit to his
house, the Château de Busagny, and he prayed the court to authorise a
search to be made at Glandier, Madame Lafarge's residence until her
recent arrest.

When arraigned and interrogated, Marie at once admitted that the
diamonds were in her possession. She readily indicated the place where
they would be found at Glandier, and made no difficulty as to their
restitution. But she long refused positively to explain how she had come
by them, declaring it to be a secret she was bound in honour to keep
inviolate. At last, under the urgent entreaties of her friends, she
confided the secret to her two counsel, Maître Bac and Maître Lachaud
(at that time on the threshold of his great and enduring renown), and
sent them to Madame Leautaud beseeching her to allow a full revelation
of the facts. The letters she then wrote her school friend have been
preserved. The first was brief, and merely introduced Maître Bac as a
noble and conscientious person, who had her full confidence, and on whom
Madame de Leautaud might rely in discussing an affair that concerned
them both so closely. The second was a pathetic appeal to tell the whole
truth about the diamonds, and it is not easy to say on reading it
whether it was inspired by extraordinary astuteness or by genuine
emotion. It ran:

     MARIE,--May God never visit upon you the evil you have done me.
     Alas, I know you to be really good, but weak. You have told
     yourself that as I am likely to be convicted of an atrocious crime
     I may as well take the blame of one which is only infamous. I kept
     our secret. I left my honour in your hands, and you have not chosen
     to absolve me.

     The time has arrived for doing me justice. Marie, for your
     conscience' sake, for the sake of your past, save me!... Remember
     the facts; you cannot deny them. From the moment I knew you I was
     deep in your confidence, and I heard the story of that intrigue,
     begun at school and continued at Busagny by letters that passed
     through my hands.

     You soon discovered that this handsome Spaniard had neither fortune
     nor family. You forbade him to love, although you had first sought
     his love, and then you entered into another love affair with M. de

...The man you flouted cried for vengeance.... The situation became
     intolerable, but money alone could end it. I came to Busagny, and
     it was arranged between us that you should entrust your diamonds to
     me, so that I might raise money on them, with which you could pay
     the price he demanded.

The letter proceeds in similar terms, and need not be reproduced at
length. Marie Lafarge continues to implore her old friend to save her,
reminding her that only thus can she save herself. Otherwise all the
facts must come out.

     Remember [and here we seem to get one glimpse of the cloven foot] I
     have all the proofs in my hands. Your letters to him and his to
     you, your letters to me.... Your letter, in which you tell me that
     he is singing in the chorus at the opera, and is of the stamp of
     man to extort blackmail.... There is one thing for you to do now.
     Acknowledge in writing under your own hand, dated June, that you
     consigned the diamonds to my care with authority to sell them if I
     thought it advisable. This will end the affair.

As Madame de Leautaud still positively denied the truth of these
statements, Marie, in self-defence, made them to the judge. She told the
whole story of how the diamonds had been given her to sell, that she
might remit the amount to a young man in poor circumstances and of
humble condition, whose revelations might prove inconvenient. Madame de
Leautaud had assisted Marie to take the jewels out of their settings, so
as to facilitate their sale. If they had not as yet been sold, it was
because she had found it very difficult to dispose of them, both before
and after her marriage. She still had them; and they were, in fact,
found at Glandier, in the place she indicated. There was never any
question as to the identity of the stones, which were recognised in
court by the jeweller who had supplied them, and who spoke to their
value, some £300, independently of certain pearls which were missing.

The prosecution certainly made out a strong case against Marie Lafarge.
The jewels, it was stated, were first missed after a discussion between
the two ladies on the difference between paste and real stones. At first
Madame de Leautaud made little of her loss. She was careless of her
things, and thought her husband or her mother had hidden her jewels
somewhere to give her a fright. But they both denied having played her
any such trick, and as the jewels were undoubtedly gone, the police were
informed, and many of the servants suspected. Suspicion against Madame
Lafarge had always rankled in Madame de Leautaud's mind, and it was soon
strengthened by her strange antics with regard to the jewels. On one
occasion she defended a servant who had been suspected, promising to
find him a place if he were dismissed, as she knew he was innocent. One
of her servants told the de Leautauds that her mistress said laughingly
she had stolen the jewels and swallowed them. Again, Madame Lafarge had
submitted to be mesmerised by Madame de Montbreton, Madame de Leautaud's
sister, and had fallen into an evidently simulated magnetic trance;
when, being questioned about the missing jewels, she said they had been
removed by a Jew, who had sold them. Other circumstances were adduced as
strongly indicating Marie's guilt. It was observed in Paris, before her
marriage, that she had a quantity of fine stones, loose, and she
explained that they had been given her at Busagny. Once after her
marriage M. Lafarge had asked her for a diamond to cut a pane of glass,
and, to his surprise, she produced a number, saying she had owned them
from childhood, but that they had only been handed over to her lately by
an old servant.

These contradictory explanations told greatly against Madame Lafarge.
She made other statements also that were at variance. When first taxed
with the theft she pretended that the diamonds had been sent her by an
uncle in Toulouse, whose name and address she was, however, unable to
give. Next she brought up the story contained in her appealing letter to
Madame de Leautaud. It was the story of the young man, Félix Clavé, son
of a schoolmaster, with whom the girls had made acquaintance. Having
frequently met him when attending mass, they rashly wrote him an
anonymous letter, giving him a rendezvous in the garden of the
Tuileries. Marie Lafarge declared that the encouragement came from
Madame de Leautaud, which the latter denied, and retorted that it was
Marie Lafarge who had been the object of the young man's devotion.

Then Clavé disappeared to Algeria, so Marie declared, as he had written
to her from Algiers. Madame de Leautaud said this was impossible, as she
had seen him on the stage of the opera. A few months later, Marie
alleged, when her friend was with her at Busagny, Madame de Leautaud
brought out the diamonds and implored Marie to sell them for her, as she
must "absolutely" have money to buy Clavé's silence. What followed,
according to Marie Lafarge, has already been told, except that Madame de
Leautaud went through a number of devices to make it appear that the
diamonds had been stolen from her, and that then M. de Leautaud was
informed of the supposed theft. The gendarmes actually came to search
the château and to investigate the robbery next day, although at that
time the diamonds were safe in her possession, entrusted to her by
Madame de Leautaud.

According to the prosecution, these statements were quite untrue. There
had been a theft, and it was soon discovered. The chief of the Paris
detective police, M. Allard, had been summoned to Busagny to
investigate, and he was satisfied that the robbery had been committed by
someone in the château; and, as the servants all bore unimpeachable
characters, M. Allard had asked about the other inmates, and the guests.
Then M. de Leautaud mentioned Marie Capelle (Lafarge), and hinted that
there were several sinister rumours current concerning her, but would
not make any distinct charge then. M. Allard now remembered that there
had been another mysterious robbery at the house of Madame Garat, Marie
Lafarge's aunt, in Paris, a couple of years before, when a 500 franc
note had been stolen, and he had been called in to investigate, but
without any result. What if Marie Capelle (Lafarge) had had something to
do with this theft?


It must be admitted that these charges, if substantiated, made the case
look black against Marie Lafarge. But one, at least, fell entirely to
the ground when she was on her defence. It was clearly shown that she
could not have stolen the banknote at her aunt's, Madame Garat's, for
she was in Paris at the time. As regards the diamonds, her story, if she
had stuck to one account only--that of the blackmail--would have been
plausible, nay probable, enough. It was positively contradicted on oath
by the lady most nearly concerned, Madame de Leautaud, and it was not
believed by the court; and Marie Lafarge was finally convicted of having
stolen the diamonds, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. She
appealed against this finding, and appeared no less than four times to
seek redress, always without success. Meanwhile the graver charge of
murder had been gone into and decided against her; so that the shorter
sentence for theft was merged into the life sentence.

There were many who believed in Marie's entire innocence to the very
last. Her own maid elected to go with her to prison, and remained by her
side for a year. A young girl, cousin of the deceased M. Lafarge, was
equally devoted, and also accompanied her to Montpelier gaol. Her
advocate, the eminent Maître Lachaud, steadfastly denied her guilt, and
years later, when the unfortunate woman died, he regularly sent flowers
for her grave.

[Illustration: MADELEINE SMITH.

(_From a Portrait taken in Court during her Trial._)]


The eldest daughter of a Glasgow architect, Madeleine Smith was a girl
of great beauty, bright, attractive, and much courted. But from all her
suitors she singled out a certain Jersey man, Pierre Émile l'Angelier,
an _employé_ in the firm of Huggins, in Glasgow--a small, insignificant
creature, altogether unworthy of her in looks or position. The
acquaintance ripened, and Madeleine seems to have become devotedly
attached to her lover, whom she often addressed as her "own darling
husband." They kept up a clandestine correspondence, and had many stolen
interviews at a friend's house. In the spring of 1856 Madeleine's
parents discovered the intimacy, and peremptorily insisted that it
should end forthwith. But the lovers continued to meet secretly, and
Madeleine threw off all restraint, and was ready to elope with her
lover. The time was indeed fixed, but she suddenly changed her mind.

Then a rich Glasgow merchant, Mr. Minnock, saw Madeleine, and was
greatly enamoured of her. Early in January, 1857, he offered her
marriage, and she became engaged to him. It was necessary, now, to
break with l'Angelier, and, mindful of the old adage to be off with the
old love before she took on with the new, she wrote to him, begging him
to return her letters and her portrait. L'Angelier positively refused to
give them or her up. He had told many friends of his connection with
Madeleine Smith, and some of them had now advised him to let her go.
"No; I will never surrender the letters, nor, so long as I live, shall
she marry another man." On the 9th of February he wrote her a letter,
which must have been full of upbraiding, and probably of threats, but it
has not been preserved. Madeleine must have been greatly terrified by
it, too, for her reply was a frantic appeal for mercy, for a chivalrous
silence as to their past relations which he was evidently incapable of
preserving. She was in despair, entirely in the hands of this mean
ruffian, who was determined not to spare her; she saw all hope of a good
marriage fading away, and nothing but ignominious exposure before her.

As the result of the trial, when by-and-by she was arraigned for the
murder of l'Angelier, was a verdict of "Not Proven," it is hardly right
to say that she now resolved to rid herself of the man who possessed her
guilty secret. But that was the case for the prosecution, the basis of
the charge brought against her. She had made up her mind, as it seemed,
to extreme measures. She appeared to be reconciled with l'Angelier, and
had several interviews with him. What passed at these meetings of the
11th and 12th of February was never positively known, but on the 19th he
was seized with a mysterious and terrible illness, being found lying on
the floor of his bedroom writhing in pain, and likely to die. He did, in
fact, recover, but those who knew him said he was never the same man
again. He seems to have had some suspicion of Madeleine, for he told a
friend that a cup of chocolate had made him sick, but said he was so
much fascinated by her that he would forgive her even if she poisoned
him, and that he would never willingly give her up.

Rumours of the engagement and approaching marriage now reached his ears,
and called forth fresh protests and remonstrances. Madeleine replied,
denying the rumours, and declaring that she loved him alone. About this
time the Smith family went on a visit to Bridge of Allan, where Mr.
Minnock followed them, and, at his urgent request, the day of marriage
was fixed. Then they all returned to Glasgow, and missed l'Angelier, who
also had followed Madeleine to Bridge of Allan. He remained at
Stirling, but, on receiving a letter from her, he went on to Glasgow,
being in good health at the time. This was the 22nd of February, a
Sunday, on which night, about eight p.m., he reached his lodgings, had
tea, and went out. As he left, he asked for a latchkey, saying he "might
be late." He expressed his intention of going back to Stirling the
following day.

That same night, or rather in the small hours of the morning, the
landlady was roused by a violent ringing of the bell; and, going down to
the front door, found l'Angelier there, half doubled up with pain. He
described himself as exceedingly ill. A doctor was sent for, who put him
to bed and prescribed remedies, but did not anticipate immediate danger.
The patient, however, persisted in repeating that he was "worse than the
doctor thought"; but he hoped if the curtains were drawn round his bed,
and he were left in peace for five minutes, he would be better. These
were his last words. When the doctor presently reappeared; l'Angelier
was dead. He had passed away without giving a sign; without uttering one
word to explain how he had spent his time during the evening.

A search was made in his pockets, but nothing of importance was found;
but a letter addressed to him signed "M'eine," couched in passionate
language, imploring him "to return." "Are you ill, my beloved? Adieu!
with tender embraces." The handwriting of this letter was not
identified, but a friend of l'Angelier's, M. de Mean, hearing of his
sudden death, went at once to warn Madeleine Smith's father that
l'Angelier had letters in his possession which should not be allowed to
fall into strange hands. It was too late: the friends of the deceased
had sealed up his effects and they refused to surrender the letters.

Later M. de Mean plainly told Madeleine Smith, whom he saw in her
mother's presence, that grave suspicion began to overshadow her. It was
known that l'Angelier had come up from Bridge of Allan at her request,
and he implored her to say whether or not he had been in her company
that night. Her answer was a decided negative, and she stated positively
that she had seen nothing of him for three weeks. She went farther and
asserted that she had neither seen nor wanted to see him on the Sunday
evening; she had given him an appointment for Saturday, but he had not

BELL." (p. 152).]

appeared, although she had waited for him some time. This appointment
had been made that she might recover her letters. All through this
painful interview with de Mean, Madeleine appeared in the greatest
distress. Next morning she took to flight.

Madeleine was pursued, but by her family, not by the police, and was
overtaken on board a steamer bound for Rowallan. Soon after her return
to Glasgow the contents of her letters to l'Angelier were made public,
and a _post-mortem_ had been made. The body had been exhumed, and the
suspicious appearance of the mucous membrane of the stomach, together
with the history of the case, pointed to death by poison. The various
organs, carefully sealed, were handed over to experts for analysis, and
it may be well to state here the result of the medical examination.

Dr. Penny stated in evidence that the quantity of arsenic found in the
deceased amounted to eighty-eight grains, or about half a, teaspoonful,
some of it in hard, gritty, colourless, crystalline particles. It was
probable that this was no more than half the whole amount the deceased
had swallowed, for under the peculiar action of arsenic a quantity,
quite half a teaspoonful, must have been ejected.

The chief difficulties in the case were whether anyone could have taken
so much as a whole teaspoonful of arsenic unknowingly, and how this
amount could have been administered. The question was keenly debated,
and it was generally admitted that the poison could have been given in
chocolate, cocoa, gruel, or some thick liquid, or mixed with solid food
in the shape of a cake. This was not inconsistent with the conjectures
formed that l'Angelier had met Madeleine Smith on the Sunday night.

The case against her became more formidable when it was ascertained that
she had been in the habit of buying arsenic, but with the alleged
intention of taking it herself, for her complexion. She was now arrested
and sent for trial at Edinburgh, on a charge of poisoning l'Angelier.
Her purchases of arsenic were proved by the chemist's books under date
of the 21st of February, and again on the 6th and 18th of March, this
last date being four days before the murder.

It was also proved that she wanted to buy prussic acid a few weeks
before her arrest. There was nothing to show that she had obtained or
possessed any arsenic at the time of l'Angelier's first illness, on the
19th of February. But it was proved in evidence that, on the night of
his death, Sunday, the 22nd of March, l'Angelier had been seen in the
neighbourhood of Blythswood Square, where the Smiths lived; again, that
he had himself bought no arsenic in Glasgow.

Madeleine's plucky demeanour in court gained her much sympathy; she
never once gave way; only when her impassioned letters were being read
aloud did she really lose her composure. She stepped into the dock as
though she were entering a ballroom and although she was under grave
suspicion of having committed a dastardly crime, the conduct of
l'Angelier had set the public strongly against him, so that a vague
feeling of "served him right" was present in the large crowd assembled
to witness the trial. The case for the prosecution was strong, but it
failed to prove the actual administration of poison, or, indeed, that
the accused had met the deceased on the Sunday night.

The judge, in summing up, pointed out the grave doubts that surrounded
the case, and the verdict of the jury was "Not proven," by a majority of

This result was received with much applause in court, and generally
throughout Glasgow, although a dispassionate review of all the facts in
this somewhat mysterious case must surely point clearly to a failure of
justice. However, Madeleine triumphed, and won great favour with the
crowd. The money for her defence was subscribed in Glasgow twice over,
and even before she left the court she received several offers of

Since writing the foregoing I have had an interesting communication from
a lady, who has told me the impressions of one who was present in court
during the whole of Madeleine Smith's trial. This gentleman was an
advocate, trained and practised in the law, and according to his
opinion, unhesitatingly expressed, there could be no shadow of doubt but
that Madeleine was l'Angelier's wife, by the law of Scotland. As he has
put it, in Scotland two people who ought to be married can generally be
joined together, and there was little doubt that the sanction of
matrimony was needed for this connection. Both Madeleine and l'Angelier
were in the habit of addressing each other as husband and wife. This
explains l'Angelier's insistence on the point that "so long as he lived
Madeleine should never marry another man."

The verdict of "Not proven" was brought in by the jury on the grounds
that it was not established that the two had actually met on the Sunday
night preceding l'Angelier's last illness. Nevertheless, it is certain
that a pocket-book of l'Angelier's was offered as evidence to the judge,
Lord Fullerton, who examined it, but ruled it out because it was not a
consecutive diary and the entries had been made in pencil. This book was
placed, after the proceedings, in the hands of the legal gentleman above
mentioned, and he saw in it an unmistakable entry made by l'Angelier to
the effect that he had been in Madeleine's company on the Saturday

BALL-ROOM" (p. 155).]

Full corroboration is given by my informant of the engaging and
attractive appearance of Madeleine Smith. She was so excessively pretty
and bewitching that, to use his own words, no one but a hard-hearted
old married man could have resisted her fascinations. He had no doubt
whatever in his own mind of her guilt.


General W. E. Ketchum, of the United States army, was a man somewhat
past the prime of life, but still sound and strong. Mrs. Wharton was the
widow of an army man, and was upwards of fifty years of age. The two
were intimate friends, and the General, who had amassed a modest
competence, had lent various sums to Mrs. Wharton, amounting to some
$2,600 (£520). She was not well off, as it was thought, and, just before
the events about to be recorded, she was unable to pay an intended visit
to Europe from insufficient funds and inability to obtain her letter of

On the 23rd of June, 1871, General Ketchum came from Washington to her
house in Baltimore, to see the last of her, believing her about to start
on her long journey, and to collect his debt of $2,600. He was in
excellent health when he left home, but very soon after arriving at
Baltimore he was taken very ill. He rallied for a time, but again
relapsed, and on the 28th of June he died. Suspicions were aroused by
his sudden decease, and certainly the symptoms of his illness, as
reported, were singular and obscure. Whilst he lay there sick unto
death, another gentleman residing in the same house was also suddenly
prostrated with a strange and unaccountable sickness, and narrowly
escaped with his life.

After General Ketchum's death his waistcoat was not to be found, nor the
note for $2,600. Mrs. Wharton declared that she had repaid him what she
owed him and that he had then given her back the note of hand, which was
destroyed there and then. She furthermore claimed from his estate a sum
of $4,000 in United States Bonds, which, as she asserted, she had
entrusted to the General's safe keeping; yet there was not the slightest
mention of any such transaction in his papers--a strange omission,
seeing that he was a man of unquestionable integrity, and most
scrupulously exact in all matters of account.

Chemical analysis of the stomach of the deceased disclosed the presence
of antimonial poison--one of the constituents of tartar emetic. The same
poison had been found in a tumbler of milk punch prepared by Mrs.
Wharton for General Ketchum, and in a tumbler of beer offered by Mrs.
Wharton to the other invalid in her house, Mr. van Ness. Mrs. Wharton
had been known to buy tartar emetic during the very week when these
singular illnesses occurred among the guests under her roof.

In these suspicious facts people easily found materials for believing in
a crime, and a story was soon spread to the effect that Mrs. Wharton had
succeeded in poisoning General Ketchum, and had tried to poison Mr. van
Ness. Meanwhile she resumed her preparations for her voyage to Europe;
but on the very day of departure, the 10th of July, 1871, a warrant for
her arrest was issued, and she was taken into custody. In the trial
which followed, a great many of the known facts were ruled out as
inadmissible. It was argued, and accepted in law, that an accusation of
murdering one man could not be supported by evidence of an attempt to
kill another, although almost at the same time and by the same means.
The charge of poisoning General Ketchum was tried as if there had been
no van Ness, as if no other person had been taken ill in Mrs. Wharton's
house. But by reason of the predisposition of the public mind, the case
was transferred from Baltimore to Annapolis, and there tried.

The first witness was a Mrs. Chubb, who had accompanied General Ketchum
to Baltimore, and who testified that he had fallen ill directly he
arrived. He was seized with vomiting, giddiness, and general nausea,
which lasted for three days. A doctor was then called in, who prescribed
medicine, but Mrs. Wharton broke the bottle, whether by accident or
intentionally it was impossible to say. Distinct evidence was first
afforded of the possession of tartar emetic by Mrs. Wharton. Mrs. Chubb,
who went out to get a fresh bottle of medicine for the General, was
asked to buy the antimony also, which Mrs. Wharton said she wanted for

The invalid's condition improved a little the next day, and arrangements
were made to remove him to his own home. However, he relapsed and became
worse than ever. The doctor prescribed medicine, which was to be given
him at intervals, but before the time for taking the second dose, Mrs.
Wharton appeared with it, or something like it, yet different, and more
of it than was prescribed. This she strenuously urged the General to
swallow, and succeeded in inducing him to do so. Within fifteen minutes
he was racked with terrible pain. He tore with his fingers at his
throat, chest, and stomach until he broke the skin, then followed
fierce convulsions, at the end of which he died.

Fresh evidence was forthcoming, but not accepted, against Mrs. Wharton.
At her suggestion Mrs. van Ness, who had been nursing her brother, had
concocted some milk punch. This was made in two portions. One was given
to Mr. van Ness, and produced symptoms very similar to those exhibited
by the unfortunate General Ketchum; the other had been left in a
refrigerator by the General's bedside, and when what was left had been
examined by Mrs. van Ness, she declared it had been tampered with; there
was a strange muddy deposit at the bottom of the tumbler, and when
tasted it was metallic, leaving a curious grating sensation in the
mouth. The original constituents had been no more than whisky, milk, and
sugar. This testimony was ruled out of order, as belonging to an
entirely different case.

The doctor who had attended the General gave evidence as to the symptoms
he observed and the remedies applied. At first sight he thought him to
be suffering from Asiatic cholera; but later developments were more
those of apoplexy, and then again he feared paralysis. He at length had
his suspicions aroused, and hinted at poison. The remains of the
suspected tumbler were shown him, and his doubts became convictions.
With regard to the poisonous action of tartar emetic, the doctor
testified that he had noticed all its symptoms in the deceased, although
there was a strong similarity between them and those of cholera. Other
medical opinion was to the effect that death might have been due to
cerebro-spinal meningitis, and some stress was laid upon the absence of
antimonial poison in many of the internal organs, although it was
contended it had been found in small quantities in the stomach. The same
lethal drug had been also detected by analysis in the sediment at the
bottom of the tumbler of milk punch.

The verdict of the jury was "Not guilty," but it did not satisfy public
opinion, and it was generally felt that Wharton's counsel had by no
means established her innocence; none of the incriminating facts had
been entirely disproved, nor had the exact truth in regard to the money
transactions been elicited. No doubt the accused escaped chiefly owing
to the fact that chemical experts, called by her counsel, were not
satisfied, beyond the possibility of all reasonable doubt, that antimony
had been found in the vital organs of General Ketchum. At the time of
this trial another indictment was also pending against Mrs. Wharton,
charging her with an attempt to kill Mr. van Ness by administering
poison. But some months later the counsel for the State entered a _nolle
prosequi_, for what reasons was never generally or distinctly known.


Truth is stranger than fiction, as we have heard often enough, but in
this extraordinary case we shall never know how much is fiction, how
much truth. If justice failed, it was misled by a series of the
strangest circumstances, some of which have remained a mystery to the
present hour. The following details are taken from an account written by
a magistrate resident near the scene of the occurrence, and by name Sir
Thomas Overbury, the direct descendant of the unfortunate Overbury
poisoned in the Tower.


The village of Campden, in Gloucestershire, some five-and-twenty minutes
from the cathedral town and county seat, gave its name to the
Viscountess Campden, the lady of the manor. Her steward and agent, a
certain William Harrison, a man of seventy years, started from Campden
on the 16th of August, 1660, to walk over to the neighbouring village of
Charringworth, where he wished to collect rents due to his mistress. As
he had not returned according to his wont between 8 and 9 p.m., Mrs.
Harrison, his wife, despatched a servant named John Perry along the road
to meet him and bring him safely home. Neither Perry nor his master
returned that night. Next morning Edward Harrison, the son, proceeded to
Charringworth to inquire for his father, and on his way met Perry, the
servant, coming from that village. Perry told Edward Harrison that Mr.
Harrison had not been heard of, and the two together visited another
village, Ebrington, and there got some news. A villager stated that the
elder Harrison had paid him a passing call the night before, but had
made no stay.

They next went to Paxford, a mile thence, where further news met them.
They heard that a poor woman had picked up, in the high road between
Ebrington and Campden, a hat, a hat-band, and a comb, and seeking her
out, they found her "leasing" or gleaning in a field, whereupon she
delivered up the articles, and they were at once identified as Mr.
Harrison's. The woman was forthwith desired to point out the spot where
she had picked them up, and she showed it them on the road "near unto a
great furze brake." As the hat-band was bloody and the comb all hacked
and cut, it was reasonably concluded that their owner had been murdered.

Mr. Harrison's disappearance so greatly alarmed his wife that she
conceived he had met with foul play at the hand of John Perry, the
servant whom she had sent to convoy him home. At her instance,
therefore, Perry was seized and carried before a justice, who
straightway bade him explain why he had stayed absent the whole of the
night he had been sent to look for his master. Perry's story was that he
had not gone "a land's length" towards Charringworth when it came on so
dark he was afraid to go forward, and he returned to the Harrisons'
house, meaning to take out his young master's horse. But he did no more
than make another false start, and then, without informing his mistress
that he was still on the premises, he lay down to rest in the hen-roost,
where he continued for an hour or more, "but slept not." About midnight
he turned out again, and the moon having now risen he really started for
Charringworth. Once more he was stopped; this time by a great mist, in
which he lost his way, and finally he took refuge under a hedge, where
he slept till daybreak. At last he reached Charringworth, and learning
that his master had been there the previous day, followed his movements
as he went from house to house receiving monies for rent. There were,
however, no signs of the missing man in the village now.

Most of Perry's statements were verified by other witnesses; but the
case was black against him, and he was detained by the law until
something definite came out concerning Mr. Harrison. A week passed,
during which Perry was lodged "sometimes in an inn in Campden, sometimes
in the common prison," and all the time he was devising different
stories to account for his master's disappearance. One was that a tinker
had killed him; another that the servant of a neighbouring squire had
robbed and murdered him; and thirdly, that he had been killed in
Campden, where his body was hidden in a bean-rick, which was searched,
but no body found. On further examination, being pressed to confess, he
again insisted that Mr. Harrison had been murdered, "but not by him."
Then the justice said if he knew of the murder he must know also the
perpetrators, and this John Perry presently allowed by putting the whole
blame on his own mother and brother.

He charged these near relatives with having constantly "lain at him"
ever since he was in Mr. Harrison's service, urging him to help them
with money, reminding him how poor they were, and how easy it was for
him to relieve them; he need do no more than give them notice when his
master went to receive his rents, and they could then waylay him and rob
him. Perry went on to say that he met his brother Richard on the very
morning that Mr. Harrison went to Charringworth, and that the brother,
hearing of the rent collection, was resolved to have the money; that
when he (John Perry) started by his mistress's order to bring Mr.
Harrison safely home, he again met his brother Richard, who was lying in
wait at a gateway leading from Campden Churchyard into the "Conygree,"
certain private grounds and gardens of Lady Campden's place. By-and-bye,
having entered this "Conygree," which was possible only to those who had
the key, he found that his master was being attacked; he was "on the
ground, his brother upon him, and his mother standing by." He begged
hard that they would not hurt his master, who was crying, "Ah, rogues,
you will kill me!" but his brother Richard replied: "Peace, peace! you
are a fool," and so strangled him, "which having done, he took a bag of
money out of his (Mr. Harrison's) pocket, and threw it into his mother's
lap," and then he and his mother consulted what to do with the body.


1. Buildings just inside the "Conygree," where Harrison was said to have
been strangled.

2. The "Great Sink" or Mill Pond into which Harrison's body was said to
have been thrown.

3. Entrance to the "Conygree" (right of the steps).]

It was decided that they should drop it into the Great Sink, behind
certain mills near the garden, and this they did. John Perry told all
this most circumstantially, making it agree with his own movements and
the various facts that had come to light, describing how he had gone
into the hen-roost but could not sleep; how he had taken with him the
hat, band, and comb (and cut the latter with his knife), how he had cast
them down upon the highway where they were found, giving as his reason
that he hoped it might be believed that his master had been robbed and

The justices, on this confession, sent to search the Sink at the mill,
but without success; "the fish pools likewise in Campden were drawn and
searched, but nothing could be there found," so that "some were of
opinion the body might be hid in the ruins of Campden House, burnt in
the late wars, and not unfit for such concealment, where was likewise
search made, but all in vain." No time was lost, however, in securing
the other Perrys--Joan, the mother, and Richard, both of whom were
informed of the accusation brought against them, which "they denied with
many imprecations." John, nevertheless, persisted that he had spoken
nothing but truth. Suspicion was strengthened against Richard Perry by
his being seen to drop a ball of "inkle," which he declared was his
wife's "hair lace," but which John, when it was shown to him, said he
knew to his sorrow, for it was the string his brother had strangled Mr.
Harrison with. Other significant evidence was quoted, as that Richard's
nose "fell a-bleeding" when he met his children, being on his way to be
admonished by the minister in church. Again, it was remembered that a
year before there had been a robbery at Mr. Harrison's, when £140 was
stolen from the house at noonday; and John Perry was now asked if he
knew aught of the matter. His answer was that his brother Richard was
the thief, that he, John Perry, had given him notice that the money was
in a room that could be reached by a ladder to the window, and that
Richard had stolen it while the master was in church with his whole
family "at lecture."

The three Perrys, Joan, John, and Richard, were arraigned at the next
assizes on two separate counts: house-breaking and robbery (of £140),
and again robbery and the murder of William Harrison. The judge would
not allow the second charge to be proceeded with, as no body had been
found, but they acknowledged, indeed, pleaded guilty to it, begging for
the king's pardon under the recent Act of Oblivion. The charge of murder
was again advanced at the next assize before another judge, and allowed;
it ended in a verdict of guilty, mainly on the strength of John's
confession, although by this time John had gone out of his mind. This
was enough to satisfy those who administered the law; and the three,
Joan, John, and Richard Perry, were all sentenced to be hanged. The
execution was carried out without delay on Broadway Hill, in sight of
Campden, where John was also hung in chains.

The strangest part of this affair has yet to be told. William Harrison
was not dead; he had been much misused, but had not been murdered, and
three years later he reappeared in the flesh. His was a marvellous tale,
and its veracity was questioned at the time, but we cannot discredit it

The account he gave of himself is found in a letter he addressed to Sir
Thomas Overbury, whose narrative has been followed throughout.

On the day in question, Thursday, the 16th of August, 1660, he went to
Charringworth to collect Lady Campden's rents, but as harvest was in
progress the tenants did not come home from the fields till late, and he
was kept at Charringworth till nightfall. He received no more than £23,
although he had expected a very considerable sum. With this in his
pocket he took his road home, and reached at length the Ebrington
Furzes, where the tract passed through a narrow passage. Here he was
suddenly faced by a man mounted on horseback, and fearing to be ridden
down he struck the horse over the nose, whereupon the horseman drew his
sword and attacked him, Harrison making what defence he could with his
cane. Then came another behind him, who caught him by the collar and
dragged him towards the hedge, and after him a third. They did not rob
him of his money, but two of them lifted him into the saddle behind the
third, and forcing his arms around the rider's middle, fastened the
wrists together "with something that had a spring lock to it as I
conceived by hearing it give a snap as they put it on." After this they
threw a cloak over him, and carried him away, riding some distance till
they halted at a stone pit, into which they tumbled him, having now
taken all his money. An hour later they bade him come out of the pit,
and when he asked what they would do with him they struck him, then
mounted him again in the same manner; but before riding away they filled
his pockets with a great quantity of money, which incommoded him much in
riding, so that by next afternoon, when they again drew rein, he was
sorely bruised.

They had come now to a lone house upon a heath, where he was carried
upstairs, and they stayed the night. The woman of the house was told
that he was much hurt, and was being carried to a surgeon; they laid him
on cushions on the floor, and gave him some broth and strong waters.
Next day, Saturday, they rode on as before and they lay that night at a
place where there were two or three houses, where again he slept on
cushions. The next day, Sunday, they reached Deal, and halted by the
seaside. One of them kept guard over the prisoner while the two others
entered into conference with a man who was awaiting them. This man,
whose name he afterwards heard was Renshaw, was afraid that Harrison
would die before he could be got on board, but he was put into a boat
and carried to a ship, where his wounds were dressed, and in a week's
time "he was indifferently recovered." Now the master of the ship came
one day to say that they were chased by Turkish pirates, and when all
offered to fight in defence of the ship he would not suffer it, but
handed them over prisoners to the Turks. They were lodged in a dark
hole, and remained there in wretched plight, not knowing how long it was
before they landed, nor where they were put on shore, except that it was
a great house or prison. Presently they were called up and viewed by
persons who came to buy them, and Harrison, having said that he had some
skill in physic, was taken by an aged physician who lived near Smyrna,
and who had at one time resided in England, at Crowland, in
Lincolnshire. Harrison was set to keep the still-room, and was fairly
well treated, except on one occasion, when his master, being displeased,
felled him to the ground, and would have stabbed him with his stiletto.

After nearly two years' captivity Harrison's master fell sick and died,
but before the end he liberated his captive, and bade him shift for
himself. Harrison made his way to a seaport about a day's journey
distant, where he met two men belonging to a Hamburg ship, and now about
to sail for Portugal. He implored them to give him passage, but they
replied that they did not dare, nor would they yield for all his
importunity. At last a third man from the same ship consented to take
him on board provided he would lie down above the keel, and remain
hidden till they got to sea. They carried him safely to Lisbon, where
they put him on shore, penniless and friendless, as he thought, but he
happened fortunately on three Englishmen, one of whom took compassion on
him, provided him with lodging and diet, and at last procured him a
passage home.

Harrison's story was published in 1676, together with the original
narrative of Sir Thomas Overbury, and certain critical remarks were
appended. It was said that many people doubted whether Harrison had ever
been out of England. Nevertheless, it was certain that he had absented
himself from his home and friends for a couple of years, and unless he
was carried forcibly away there is no plausible


explanation of his disappearance. It seemed on the face of it highly
improbable that a man who bore a good character, who was in comfortable
circumstances, the esteemed servant of an honourable family for nearly
fifty years, would have run away without the least warning, and
apparently for no sort of reason. He was already seventy years of age,
and he left behind him a very considerable sum of Lady Campden's money.
That he was seized and sequestrated can hardly be doubted, but how or by
whom, except so far as he himself describes, was never satisfactorily
known. It was thought that his eldest son, hoping to succeed him in the
stewardship to Lady Campden, might have compassed his father's removal.
This view was supported by the fact that when he did become steward he
betrayed his trust. Yet again, to suppose that the elder Harrison would
allow the Perrys to suffer death for a crime of which he knew they must
be innocent was to accuse him of the deepest turpitude.

The conclusion generally arrived at was that the facts actually did
happen very much as they were related, yet the whole story is involved
in mystery. The only solution, so far as Perry is concerned, is that he
was mad, as the second judge indeed declared. But we cannot account for
Harrison's conduct on any similar supposition. If his own story is
rejected as too wild and improbable for credence, some other explanation
must be found of his disappearance. Unless he was out of the country, or
at least beyond all knowledge of events at Campden, it is difficult to
understand what motive would have weighed with him when he heard that
three persons were to be hanged as his murderers. The only possible
conclusion, therefore, is that he was carried away, and kept away by



     The Saffron Hill Murder: Narrow Escape of Pellizioni: Two Men in
     Newgate for the Same Offence--The Murder of Constable Cock--The
     Edlingham Burglary: Arrest, Trial, and Conviction of Brannagan and
     Murphy: Severity of Judge Manisty: A new Trial: Brannagan and
     Murphy Pardoned and Compensated: Survivors of the Police
     Prosecutors put on their Trial, but Acquitted--Lord Cochrane's
     Case: His Tardy Rehabilitation.

No human institution is perfect, and the police are fallible like the
rest. They have in truth made mistakes, all of them regrettable, many
glaring, many tending to bring discredit upon a generally useful and
deserving body. If they would freely confess their error they might, in
most cases, be forgiven when they go wrong; but there have been
occasions when only the pressure of facts which there was no disputing
has elicited from them a reluctant admission that they have been on the
wrong track. One or two instances of their persistence in error will now
be adduced.


In the Pellizioni case, 1863-4, there might have been a terrible failure
of justice, as terrible as any hitherto recorded in criminal annals.
This was a murder in a public-house at Saffron Hill, Clerkenwell. The
district then, as now, was much frequented by immigrant Italians, mostly
of a low class, and they were often at variance with their English
neighbours. A fierce quarrel arose in this tavern, and was followed by a
deadly fight, in which a man named Harrington was killed, and another,
Rebbeck, was mortally wounded. The police were speedily summoned, and,
on arrival, they found an Italian, Pellizioni by name, lying across
Harrington's body, in which life was not yet extinct. Pellizioni was at
once seized as the almost obvious perpetrator of the foul deed. He
stoutly proclaimed his innocence, declaring that he had only come in to
quell the disturbance, that the murdered man and Rebbeck were already on
the ground, and that in the scuffle he had been thrown on the top of
them. But the facts were seemingly against him, and he was duly
committed for trial.


The case was tried before Mr. Baron Martin, and although the evidence
was extremely conflicting, the learned judge said that he thought it
quite conclusive against the prisoner. He summed up strongly for a
conviction, and the jury brought in a verdict of guilty, whereon
Pellizioni was sentenced to be hanged. This result was not accepted as
satisfactory by many thoughtful people, and the matter was taken up by
the Press, notably by the _Daily Telegraph_. Some of the condemned
convict's compatriots became deeply interested in him. It was known that
in the locality of Saffron Hill he bore the repute of a singularly quiet
and inoffensive man. Ultimately, a priest, who laboured among these poor
Italians, saved Justice from official murder by bringing one of his
flock to confess that he and not Pellizioni had struck the fatal blows.
This was one Gregorio Mogni, but he protested that he had acted only in

Mogni was forthwith arrested, tried, and convicted of the crime, with
the strange result that now two men lay in Newgate, both condemned,
independently not jointly, of one and the same crime. If Mogni had
struck the blows, clearly Pellizioni could not have done so. Moreover, a
new fact was elicited at Mogni's trial, and this was the production--for
the first time--of the weapon used. It was a knife, and this knife had
been found some distance from the scene of the crime, where it could not
have been thrown by Pellizioni. And again, it was known and sworn to as
Mogni's knife, which, after stabbing the men, he had handed to a friend
to take away.

The gravamen of the charge against the police was that they had found
the knife before Pellizioni was tried. It was at once recognised all
through Saffron Hill that it was Mogni's knife, and with so much current
gossip it was hardly credible that the police were not also informed of
this fact. Yet, fearing to damage their case (a surely permissible
inference), they kept back the knife at the first trial. It was
afterwards said to have been in court, but it certainly was not
produced, while it is equally certain that its identification would have
quite altered the issue, and that Pellizioni would not have been
condemned. The defence, in his case, went the length of declaring that
to this questionable proceeding the police added false swearing. No
doubt they stuck manfully to their chief and to each other, but they
hardly displayed the open and impartial mind that should characterise
all officers of justice. In any case, it was not their fault that an
innocent man was not hanged.


The strange circumstances which led to the righting of this judicial
wrong must give the Habron case a pre-eminence among others of the
kind. The mistake arose from the ungovernable temper of the accused, who
threatened to shoot a certain police officer, under the impression that
he had been injured by him.

In July, 1875, two brothers, William and John Habron, were taken before
the magistrates of Chorlton-cum-Hardy, near Manchester, charged with
drunkenness. Grave doubts, were, however, expressed in court as to the
identity of William Habron. The chief witness, constable Cock, was very
positive; he knew the man, he said, because he had so often threatened
reprisals if interfered with. But the magistrates gave William the
benefit of the doubt, and discharged him. As he left the court he passed
Cock and said, "I'll do for you yet. I shall shoot you before the night
is out."


(_From a Photograph._)]

Others heard the threat, but thought little of it, among them
Superintendent Bent, of the Manchester police. That same night Bent was
roused out with the news that Cock had been shot. He ran round to West
Point, where the unfortunate officer lay dying, and although unable to
obtain from him any distinct indication of the murderer, he concluded at
once that John Habron must be the man. He knew where the brothers
lodged, and taking with him a force of police, he surrounded the house.
"If it is anyone," said the master of the house and employer of the
accused, "it is William--he has such an abominable temper." All three
brothers--William, John, and Frank Habron--were arrested in their beds
and taken to the police-station. In the morning a strict examination of
the ground where Cock had been shot revealed a number of footmarks. The
Habrons' boots were brought to the spot and found to fit these marks

The evidence told chiefly against William Habron, who was identified as
the man who had bought some cartridges in a shop in Manchester. Both
William and John brought witnesses to prove an _alibi_, but this failed
under cross-examination. Again, they sought to prove that they had gone
home to bed at nine o'clock on the night of the murder, while other
witnesses swore to seeing them drinking at eleven p.m. in a public-house
which Cock must have passed soon after that hour on his way to West
Point, the spot where he was found murdered. The fact of William
Habron's animus against the constable was elicited from several
witnesses, but what told most against the prisoners was the
contradictory character of the defence. William Habron alone was
convicted, and sentenced to penal servitude.

Years afterwards the notorious Charles Peace, when lying under sentence
of death in Leeds prison, made full confession to the writer of these
pages that it was he who had killed constable Cock on the night in
question. The case was taken up at once, and after thorough
investigation of the facts, as stated by Peace, Habron received a full
pardon and an indemnity of £800.


Almost at the very time that William Habron was receiving tardy justice
a new and still more grievous error was being perpetrated in the North
of England. The Edlingham burglary case will always be remembered as a
grave failure of justice, and not alone because the circumstantial
evidence did not appear sufficient, but because the police, in their
anxiety to secure conviction, went too far. As the survivors of the
Northumberland police force concerned in this case were afterwards put
upon their trial for conspiracy and acquitted, they cannot be actually
charged with manufacturing false evidence, but it is pretty clear that
facts were distorted, and even suppressed, to support the police view.

The vicarage at Edlingham, a small village near Alnwick, was broken into
on the 7th of February, 1879. The only occupants of the house were Mr.
Buckle, the vicar, his wife, an invalid, his daughter and four female
servants. The daughter gave the alarm about one a.m., and roused her
father, a still sturdy old gentleman although seventy-seven years of
age, who slipped on a dressing-gown, and seizing a sword he had by him,
rushed downstairs, candle in hand, to do battle for his possessions. He
found two men rifling the drawing-room, and thrust at them; one rushed
past him and made his escape, the other fired at the vicar and wounded
him. The same shot (it was a scatter gun) also wounded Miss Buckle. This
second burglar then jumped out of the drawing-room window on to the soft
mould of a garden bed.

The alarm was given, the police and a doctor were summoned. The latter
attended to the wounds, which were serious, and the police, under the
orders of Superintendent Harkes, an energetic officer, immediately took
the necessary steps to discover the culprits. Officers were despatched
to visit the domiciles of all the poachers and other bad characters in
Alnwick, while a watch was set upon the roads into the town so that any
suspicious persons arriving might be stopped and searched. Then Mr.
Harkes drove over to Edlingham to view the premises. He found the window
in the drawing-room through which the burglars had entered still open,
and the room, all in confusion, ransacked and rifled. One of the
servants gave him a chisel which she had found in an adjoining room,
another handed over a piece of newspaper picked up just outside the
dining-room door. The police-officer soon saw from the marks made that
the chisel had been used to prise open the doors, and so soon as
daylight came he found outside in the garden the print of feet and the
impress of hands and knees upon the mould.

Meanwhile, the officers in Alnwick had ascertained that two men, both of
them known poachers, had been absent from home during the night. Their
names were Michael Brannagan and Peter Murphy; both were stopped on the
outskirts of the town about seven o'clock on the morning of the 8th.
There was nothing more against them at the moment than their absence
during the night, and after having searched them the police let them go
home. Brannagan was quickly followed, and arrested as he was taking off
his dirty clogs. Murphy, who lodged with his sister, had time to change
his wet clothes and boots before the officers appeared to take him. A
girl to whom he was engaged, fearing


something was wrong, quickly examined the pockets of his coat, and,
finding some blood and fur, tore these pockets out, and hid the coat.
When the police returned and asked for the clothes he had been wearing,
she gave them a jacket belonging to Peter's brother-in-law, an old man
named Redpath.

At the police-station, the prisoners were stripped and examined. There
was no sign of a sword wound on either of them, nor any hole or rent
that might have been made by a sword-thrust through their clothes. That
same day the prisoners were taken to Edlingham, and everything was
arranged as during the burglary. But Mr. Buckle could not identify
either of them, nor could Miss Buckle. The case against the prisoners
was certainly not strong at this stage. Moreover, there was this strong
presumption in their favour--that people engaged in such an outrage as
burglary and wounding with intent would not have returned openly to
their homes within a few hours of the commission of the crime. When
brought before the magistrates for preliminary inquiry, the prisoners
found fresh evidence adduced against them. The police, in the person of
Mr. Harkes, had traced foot-marks going through the grounds of the
vicarage, and out on to the Alnwick road. Plaster casts were produced of
these footmarks, also the boots and clogs of the prisoners, and all were
found to correspond. The chisel found in the vicarage had been traced to
Murphy. His brother-in-law, old Redpath, had been induced to identify it
as his property. This admission had been obtained from Redpath by a
clever ruse, as the police called it, although they had really set a
trap for him, and he had owned to the chisel although it was not his at
all. Another damning fact had been elicited in the discovery of a scrap
of newspaper in the lining of Murphy's coat (which, as we know, was not
Murphy's, but Redpath's), which fragment fitted exactly into the
newspaper picked up in the vicarage. This scrap of paper was unearthed
from the coat on the 16th of February, by an altogether independent and
unimpeachable witness, Dr. Wilson, the medical gentleman who attended
the Buckles. It may be observed that the coat itself had been in the
possession of the police for just nine days; so had the original

The evidence was deemed sufficient, and both prisoners were fully
committed for trial at the Newcastle spring assizes of 1879. It is now
known that certain facts, damaging to the prosecution, had been brought
to the notice of the police. They had positive information that other
persons had been abroad from Alnwick that night; they had received a
statement, made with much force by one who had good reason to know, that
the wrong men had been arrested; while there were witnesses who had met
the prisoners soon after the burglary on the other side of Alnwick. On
the other hand, fresh evidence against them was forthcoming at the
trial. This was the discovery of a piece of fustian cloth with a button
attached, which had been picked up by a zealous police-officer under the
drawing-room window, a month after the burglary. Here again was damaging
evidence, for this scrap of cloth was found to fit exactly into a gap in
Brannagan's trousers. It was said afterwards, at the trial of the
police, that they had purposely cut out the piece; and it was proved in
evidence that a tailor of Alnwick, to whom the trousers and piece were
submitted, expressed his doubts that the accident could have happened in
jumping out of the window. The tear would have been more irregular, the
fitting-in less exact. Moreover, the piece of cloth was perfectly fresh
and clean when found, whereas, if it had lain out for nearly a month in
the mud and snow, it must have become dark and dirty, and hard at the
edges, as corduroy goes when exposed to the weather. As, however, the
judge would not allow the cloth and button to be put in evidence, they
played no important part in the case until the subsequent prosecution of
the police, except possibly in prejudicing the minds of the jury against
Brannagan and Murphy.

The prisoners were ably defended by Mr. Milvain, afterwards a Q.C. His
case was that Mr. Buckle (who had corrected his first denial, and,
later, had identified the men) was mistaken in the confusion and
excitement of the burglarious attack; and that the police had actually
conspired to prove the case with manufactured evidence, so as to avoid
the reproach of another undetected crime. In support of this grave
charge he argued that even if the footprints had not been made
deliberately with the boots and clogs in their possession, there had
been a great crowd of curious folk all around the house after the crime,
any of whom might have made the marks. But a still stronger disproof was
that there were no distinct footmarks under the drawing-room window,
only vague and blurred impressions; a statement borne out long
afterwards, when it was found that the real burglars had taken the
precaution to cover their feet with sacking. Again, the evidence of the
newspaper was altogether repudiated on the grounds that it had not been
sooner detected, and had been put with malicious intention where it was
found. Lastly, several witnesses swore that they had never seen in the
possession of old Redpath any chisel such as that produced; while as to
the gun, it was denied that either prisoner had ever possessed any
firearms. Their poaching was for rabbits, and they always used a clever


_Photo: Cassell & Co., Limited._]

The judge (Manisty) summed up strongly against the prisoners, but the
jury did not so easily agree upon their verdict. They deliberated for
three hours, and at last delivered a verdict of guilty, whereupon the
judge commended them, and proceeded to pass the heaviest sentence in his
power, short of death. He sought in vain, he said, "for any redeeming
circumstance" that would justify him in reducing the sentence. Had Mr.
or Miss Buckle succumbed to their wounds, he must have condemned the
prisoners to death. It is clear, then, that Judge Manisty was only saved
by mere accident from making as grievous a mistake as any into which a
judge ever fell.

Brannagan and Murphy were removed from court protesting their innocence.
They went into penal servitude with the same disclaimer.

Seven years dragged themselves along, and there seemed no near prospect
of release, "life" convicts being detained as a rule for at least twenty
years. But now, by some unseen working of Providence, a light was about
to be let in on the case. It came to the knowledge of a young solicitor
in Alnwick that a certain George Edgell had been "out" on the night of
the Edlingham burglary, and that when he came in, a little before the
general alarm, his wife had begged their fellow-lodgers to say nothing
about his absence. Mr. Percy, Vicar of St. Paul's, Alnwick, through
whose unstinting exertions justice at last was done, knew Edgell and
questioned him, openly taxing him with complicity in the now nearly
forgotten crime. Edgell at first stoutly denied the imputation, but
seemed greatly agitated and upset. Added to this, it was stated
authoritatively that Harkes, the police superintendent, who was now
dead, admitted that he had been wrong, but that it was too late to
rectify the mistake.

There was some strong counter influence at work, and Mr. Percy found
presently that another man, named Charles Richardson, was constantly
hanging about Edgell. The reason came out when at last Edgell made full
confession of the burglary, and it was seen that this Richardson was his
accomplice. They had been out on a poaching expedition, but had had
little success. Then Richardson proposed to try the vicarage, and they
forced their way in. Richardson used a chisel which he had picked up in
an outhouse to prise open the windows and doors. All through he had been
the leader and moving spirit. He it was who had first thought of the
burglary, who had carried off the only bit of spoil worth having, Miss
Buckle's gold watch, and this, by a curious Nemesis, afforded one of the
strongest proofs of his guilt. A seal or trinket had been attached to
the chain, and years afterwards, the jeweller to whom he had sold it
came forward as a witness against him. The watch itself he had been
unable to dispose of, he said, and he threw it into the Tyne. Richardson
was a burly ruffian of great stature, and possessed of enormous
strength; a quarrelsome desperado, who had already been tried for the
murder of a policeman but acquitted for want of sufficient legal proof.

The matter was now taken up by Mr. Milvain, Q.C., who, it will be
remembered, defended Brannagan and Murphy, and who had become Recorder
of Durham. At his earnest request, backed by strong local
representations, the Home Secretary at length ordered a Commission of
Inquiry, admitting that the circumstances of the case were "most
singular and unprecedented." A solicitor of Newcastle was appointed to
investigate the whole matter, and the fresh facts, with Edgell's
confession, were set before him. On his report the conviction was
quashed. It was now seen that the evidence which had condemned those
innocent men to a life sentence was flimsy, and much of it open to
doubt. All the weak points have been already set forth, and it is enough
to state that Brannagan and Murphy were forthwith released, and returned
in triumph to Northumberland. The Treasury adjudged them the sum of £800
each, as some slight compensation for their seven years spent in durance
vile, and the money was safely invested for them by trustees. Brannagan
at once obtained employment as a wheelwright, the handicraft he had
acquired in prison, and Murphy, who was a prison-taught baker, adopted
that trade, and married the girl Agnes Simm, who had befriended him in
regard to the coat on the morning after the burglary.

The real offenders were in due course put upon their trial at Newcastle,
before Mr. Baron Pollock, were found guilty, and sentenced each to five
years' penal servitude. A petition, with upwards of three thousand
signatures, was presented to the Home Secretary, praying for a
mitigation of sentence on the ground that Edgell's voluntary confession
had righted a grievous wrong. The reply was in the negative, and this
decision can no doubt be justified. But it is impossible to leave this
question of sentence without commenting upon the extraordinary
difference in the views of two of her Majesty's judges in dealing with
precisely the same offence. There is no more glaring instance on record
of the inequality in the sentences that may be passed than that of Mr.
Justice Manisty inflicting "life" where Mr. Baron Pollock thought five
years sufficient.

Another trial was inevitable before this unfortunate affair came to an
end. The conduct of the police had been so strongly

[Illustration: CONVICTS AT WORK.

  1. Mat-making.
  2. Boot-making.
  3. Serving Dinner.
  4. Basket-weaving.
  5. Carpentry in Cell.

_Photos: W. H. Grove, Brompton Road, S.W._]

impugned that nothing less than a judicial investigation would satisfy
the public mind. A Scotland Yard detective, the well-known and highly
intelligent Inspector Butcher, had been sent down to Northumberland to
verify, if possible, strong suspicions, and hunt up all the facts. He
worked upon the problem for a couple of months, and a criminal
prosecution was ordered on his report. Harkes was now dead, but four of
his constables, Harrison, Sprott, Gair, and Chambers, were charged with
deliberately plotting the conviction of two innocent men. They were
accused of making false plaster casts of footprints; of entrapping
Redpath into a mistaken recognition of the chisel; of tearing a piece of
the newspaper found in the vicarage and feloniously placing it in the
lining of what they believed to be Murphy's coat; and lastly, of tearing
or cutting out from Brannagan's trousers a piece of cloth, which they
placed in the vicarage garden, to show that Brannagan had been there and
had jumped through the window. The real burglars, Edgell and Richardson,
were brought in their convict garb to give evidence against the
policemen by detailing their proceedings on the night of the crime.
Edgell's story was received with respect, coming as it did from a man
who was suffering imprisonment on his own confession. It was credibly
believed that Richardson had picked up the chisel, and all the
probabilities corroborated their statement that they had covered up
their feet with sacking. The defence was that the confession was all a
lie, and that the men who made it were worthless characters. In summing
up, Mr. Justice Denman showed that the evidence of deliberate conspiracy
was wanting, and that the police might be believed to have been honestly
endeavouring to do their duty in securing a conviction.


The verdict was "Not guilty," and was generally approved, more perhaps
on negative grounds of want of proof than from any positive evidence of
innocence. But the result was no doubt influenced by the fact that the
principal person in the plot, if plot there was, had passed beyond the
reach of human justice. The chief mover in the prosecution was
Superintendent Harkes, and the rest only acted at his instigation.


The prosecution and conviction of Lord Cochrane in 1814 may well be
classed under this head, for it was distinctly an error of _la haute
police_, of the Government, which as the head of all police, authorises
the detection of all wrong-doing, and sets the criminal law in motion
against all supposed offenders. It has now, been generally accepted that
the trial and prosecution of Lord Cochrane (afterwards Earl of
Dundonald) was a gross case of judicial error. He was charged with
having conspired to cause a rise in the public funds by disseminating
false news. There were, no doubt, suspicious circumstances connecting
him with the frauds of which he was wrongfully convicted, but he had a
good answer to all. His conviction and severe sentence, after a trial
that showed the bitter animosity of the judge (Ellenborough) against a
political foe, caused a strong revulsion of feeling in the public mind,
and it was generally believed that he had not had fair play. The law,
indeed, fell upon him heavily. He was found guilty, and sentenced to pay
a fine of £500, to stand in the pillory, and to be imprisoned for twelve
months. These penalties involved the forfeiture of his naval rank, and
he had risen by many deeds of conspicuous gallantry to be one of the
foremost officers in the British Navy. His name was erased from the list
of Knights of the Bath, and he was socially disgraced. How he lived to
be rehabilitated and restored to his rank and dignities is the best
proof of his wrongful conviction.

The story told by Lord Cochrane himself in his affidavits will best
describe what happened. Having just put a new ship in commission,
_H.M.S. Tonnant_, he was preparing her for sea with a convoy. He was an
inventive genius, and had recently patented certain lamps for the use of
the ships sailing with him. He had gone into the city one morning, the
21st of February, 1814, to supervise their manufacture, when a servant
followed him with a note. It had been brought to his house by a military
officer in uniform, whose name was not known, nor could it be
deciphered, so illegible was the scrawl. Lord Cochrane was expecting
news from the Peninsula, where a brother of his lay desperately wounded,
and he sent back word to his house that he would come to see the officer
at the earliest possible moment. When he returned he found a person he
barely knew, who gave the name of Raudon de Berenger, and told a strange

He was a prisoner for debt, he said, within the rules of the King's
Bench, and he had come to Lord Cochrane to implore him to release him
from his difficulties and carry him to America in his ship. His request
was refused--it could not be granted, indeed, according to naval rules;
and de Berenger was dismissed. But before he left he urged piteously
that to return to the King's Bench prison in full uniform would attract
suspicion. It was not stated how he had left it, but he no doubt implied
that he had escaped and changed into uniform somewhere. Why he did not
go back to the same place to resume his plain clothes did not appear.
Lord Cochrane only knew that in answer to his urgent entreaty he lent
him some clothes. The room was at that moment littered with clothes,
which were to be sent on board the _Tonnant_, and he unsuspiciously gave
de Berenger a "civilian's hat and coat." This was a capital part of the
charge against Lord Cochrane.

De Berenger had altogether lied about himself. He had not come from
within the rules of the King's Bench but from Dover, where he had been
seen the previous night at the Ship hotel. He was then in uniform, and
pretended to be an aide-de-camp to Lord Cathcart, the bearer of
important despatches. He made no secret of the transcendent news he
brought. Bonaparte had been killed by the Cossacks, Louis XVIII
proclaimed, and the allied armies were on the point of occupying Paris.
To give greater publicity to the intelligence, he sent it by letter to
the port-admiral at Deal, to be forwarded to the Government in London by
means of the semaphore telegraph. The effect of this startling news was
to send up stocks ten per cent., and many speculators who sold on the
rise realised enormous sums.

De Berenger, still in uniform, followed in a post-chaise, but on
reaching London he dismissed it, took a hackney coach, and drove
straight to Lord Cochrane's. He had some slight acquaintance with his
lordship, and had already petitioned him for a passage

[Illustration: BOW STREET POLICE COURT IN 1808.

(_From a Contemporary Print by Rowlandson and Pugin._)]

[Illustration: LORD COCHRANE.

(_From the Painting by Stroehling._)]

to America, an application which had been refused. There was nothing
extraordinary, then, in de Berenger's visit. His lordship, again,
claimed that de Berenger's call on him, instead of going straight to the
Stock Exchange to commence operations, indicated that he had weakened in
his plot, and did not see how to carry it through. "Had I been his
confederate," says Lord Cochrane in his affidavit, "it is not within the
bounds of credibility that he would have come in the first instance to
my house, and waited two hours for my return home, in place of carrying
out the plot he had undertaken, or that I should have been occupied in
perfecting my lamp invention for the use of the convoy, of which I was
in a few days to take charge, instead of being on _the only spot_ where
any advantage to be derived from the Stock Exchange hoax could be
realised, had I been a participator in it. Such advantage must have been
immediate, before the truth came out; and to have reaped it, had I been
guilty, it was necessary that I should not lose a moment. It is still
more improbable that being aware of the hoax, I should not have
speculated largely for the special risk of that day."

[Illustration: _De Berenger._--

(_From Cruikshank's Etching._)]

We may take Lord Cochrane's word, as an officer and a gentleman, that he
had no guilty knowledge of de Berenger's scheme; but here again the luck
was against him, for it came out in evidence that his brokers had sold
stock for him on the day of the fraud. Yet the operation was not an
isolated one made on that occasion only. Lord Cochrane declared that he
had for some time past anticipated a favourable conclusion to the war.
"I had held shares for the rise," he said, "and had made money by sales.
The stock I held on the day of the fraud was less than

[Illustration: "GAMBLING IN THE STOCKS."

(_From Cruikshank's Etching._)]

I usually had, and it was sold under an old order given to my brokers to
sell at a certain price. It had necessarily to be sold." It was clear to
Lord Cochrane's friends--who, indeed, and rightly, held him to be
incapable of stooping to fraud--that had he contemplated it he would
have been a larger holder of stock on the day in question, when he
actually held less than usual. On these grounds alone they were of
opinion that he should have been absolved from the charge.


(_From Cruikshank's Etching._)]

Great lawyers like Lords Campbell, Brougham, and Erskine have commented
on this case, all of them expressing their belief in Lord Cochrane's
innocence. Lord Campbell was of opinion that the verdict was "palpably
contrary to the first principles of justice, and ought to have been
reversed." The late Chief Baron, Sir Fitzroy Kelly, in criticising the
trial, ends by expressing his regret that "we cannot blot out this dark
page from our legal and judicial history." These are the opinions of
legal luminaries who were in the fullest mental vigour and acumen at the
time of the trial. They were intimately acquainted with all the facts,
and we may accept their judgment that a great and grievous wrong had
been done to a nobleman of high character, who had not spared himself in
the service of the State. Their view was tardily supported by the
Government in restoring Lord Cochrane to his rightful position in the

The part taken by the late Lord Playfair in the rehabilitation of Lord
Dundonald has been told by Sir Wemyss Reid in his admirable "Memoirs"
of Playfair. Lord Dundonald died in October, 1860, and by his last will
bequeathed to his grandson, the present gallant earl, whose brilliant
achievements as a cavalry leader in the great Boer War have shown him to
be a worthy scion of a warrior stock, "all the sums due to me by the
British Government for my important services, as well as the sums of pay
stopped under perjured evidence for the commission of a fraud upon the
Stock Exchange. Given under my trembling hand this 21st day of February,
the anniversary of my ruin."

Lord Playfair was an intimate friend of the much-worried admiral, and
while he was a member of the House of Commons he made a strenuous effort
to carry out the terms of the above will by recovering the sums
mentioned in it. He moved for a Select Committee of the House, which
could not be refused, "as," to quote Playfair, "the whole world had come
to the conviction that Dundonald was entirely innocent." The Committee
was appointed, and was composed of many excellent men, including Spencer
Walpole, Russell Gurney, and Whitbread.

What followed shall be told in Playfair's own words. "I declined to go
upon the Committee," he writes in his Autobiography, as edited by Sir
Wemyss Reid, "as my feelings of friendship were too keen to make me a
fair judge. The Committee felt perfectly satisfied of Lord Dundonald's
innocence, but they hesitated as to their report from lack of evidence;
at the critical point an interesting event occurred.

"In 1814 Lord Dundonald and Lady X were in love, and though they did not
marry, always held each other in great esteem for the rest of their
lives. Old Lady X was still alive in 1877, and she sent me a letter
through young Cochrane, the grandson, authorising me to use it as I
thought best. The letter was yellow with age, but had been carefully
preserved. It was written by Lord Dundonald, and was dated from the
prison on the night of the committal. It tried to console the lady by
the fact that the guilt of a near relative of hers was not suspected,
while the innocence of the writer was his support and consolation.

"The old lady must have had a terrible trial. It was hard to sacrifice
the reputation of her relative; it was harder still to see injustice
still resting upon her former lover. Lord Dundonald had loved her and
had received much kindness from her relative, so he suffered calumny
and the injustice of nearly two generations rather than tell the true
story of his wrong.

"I had long suspected the truth, but I never heard it from Lord
Dundonald. The brave old lady tendered this letter as evidence to the
Committee, but I declined to give it in, knowing that had my friend been
alive he would not have allowed me to do so. At the same time I showed
the letter to the members of the Committee individually, and it had a
great effect upon their minds, and no doubt helped to secure the report
recommending that the Treasury should pay the grandson the back salary
of the admiral.


(_From Cruikshank's Etching._)]

"The interesting letter itself I recommended should be put in the
archives of the Dundonald family, and this I believe has been done."

Part III.




     Origin of Police--Definitions--First Police in France--Charles
     V.--Louis XIV.--The Lieutenant-General of Police--His Functions and
     Powers--La Reynie--His Energetic Measures against Crime--As a
     Censor of the Press--His Steps to check Gambling and Cheating at
     Games of Chance--La Reynie's Successors: the d'Argensons, Hérault,
     d'Ombréval, Berryer--The Famous de Sartines--Two Instances of his
     Omniscience--Lenoir and Espionage--De Crosne, the last and most
     feeble Lieutenant-General of Police--The Story of the Bookseller
     Blaizot--Police under the Directory and the Empire--Fouché--His
     Beginnings and First Chances--A Born Police Officer--His Rise and
     Fall--General Savary--His Character--How he organised his Service
     of Spies--His humiliating Failure in the Conspiracy of General
     Malet--Fouché's return to Power--Some Views of his Character.

When men began to congregate in communities, laws for the good
government and protection of the whole number became a necessity, and
this led to the creation of police. The word itself is derived from
[Greek: polis] ("city"), a collection of people within a certain area: a
community working regularly together for mutual advantage and defence.
The work of defence was internal as well as external, for since the
world began there have been dissidents and outlaws, those who declined
to accept the standard of conduct deemed generally binding, and so set
law at defiance. Hence the organisation of some force taking its mandate
from the many to compel good conduct in the few; some special
institution whose functions are to watch over the common weal, and act
for the public both in preventing evil and preparing or securing good.
From this the police deduces its claim to such interference with every
citizen as is necessary to maintain order and ensure obedience to the
law. It is easy to see that by excessive development the police system
may become too paternal, and that under the great despotisms it may be
and often is a potent engine for the enslavement of a people.

CHARLES V. IN 1370.]

These ideas, perfect enough in the abstract, are contained in the
definitions of police as found in dictionaries and the best authorities.
The Imperial Dictionary calls it "a judicial and executive system in a
national jurisprudence which is specially concerned with the quiet and
good order of society; the means instituted by a government or community
to maintain public order, liberty, property, and individual security."
Littré defines _police_ as "the ordered system established in any city
or state, which controls all that affects the comfort and safety of the
inhabitants." "Police," says a modern writer, "is that section of public
authority charged to protect persons and things against every attack,
every evil which can be prevented or lessened by human prudence." Again:
"To maintain public order, protect property and personal liberty, to
watch over public manners and the public health: such are the principal
functions of the police." Although we English people were slow to adopt
any police system on a large or uniform scale, the principle has ever
been accepted by our legists. Jeremy Bentham considered police necessary
as a measure of precaution, to prevent crimes and calamities as well as
to correct and cure them. Blackstone in his Commentaries says: "By
public police and economy I mean the due regulation and domestic order
of the kingdom, whereby the individuals of the State, like members of a
well-governed family, are bound to conform their general behaviour to
the rules of propriety, good neighbourhood, and good manners; to be
decent, industrious, and inoffensive in their respective stations."

[Illustration: THE BASTILLE.

(_From an old Print._)]

The French kings were probably the first, in modern times, to establish
a police system. As early as the fourteenth century Charles V., who was
ready to administer justice anywhere, in the open field or under the
first tree, invented a police "to increase the happiness and security of
his people." It was a fatal gift, soon to be developed into an engine
of horrible oppression. It came to be the symbol of despotism, the plain
outward evidence of the king's supreme will, the bars and fetters that
checked and restrained all liberty, depriving the people of the
commonest rights and privileges, forbidding them to work, eat, dress,
live, or move from place to place without leave. Louis XIV., on his
accession, systematised and enormously increased the functions and
powers of the police, and with an excellent object, that of giving
security to a city in which crime, disorder, and dirt flourished
unchecked. But in obtaining good government all freedom and independence
was crushed out of the people.

The lieutenant of police first appointed in 1667, and presently advanced
to the higher rank of lieutenant-general, was an all-powerful
functionary, who ruled Paris despotically henceforward to the great
break-up at the Revolution. He had summary jurisdiction over beggars,
vagabonds, and evil-doers of all kinds and classes; he was in return
responsible for the security and general good order of the city. Crimes,
great and small, were very prevalent, such as repeated acts of fraud and
embezzlement; for Fouquet had but just been convicted of the
malversation of public moneys on a gigantic scale. There were traitors
in even the highest ranks, and the Chevalier de Rohan about this period
was detected in a plot to sell several strong places on the Normandy
coast to the enemy. Very soon the civilised world was to be shocked
beyond measure by the wholesale poisonings of the Marchioness of
Brinvilliers, Voisin, and other miscreants. In the very heart of Paris
there was a deep gangrene, a sort of criminal Alsatia--the Cour des
Miracles--where depredators and desperadoes gathered unchecked, and
defied authority. The streets were made hideous by incessant
bloodthirsty brawls; quarrels were fought out then and there, for
everyone, with or without leave, carried a sword--even servants and
retainers of the great noblemen--and was prompt to use it. The
lieutenant-general was nearly absolute in regard to offences, both
political and general. In his office were kept long lists of suspected
persons and known evil-doers, with full details of their marks and
appearance, nationality and character. He could deal at once with all
persons taken in the act; if penalties beyond his power were required,
he passed them on to the superior courts. The prisoners of State in the
royal castles--the Bastille, Vincennes, and


(_In the possession of Madame Tussaud & Sons, Limited._)

1. Hand Crusher. 2. Thumb-screw. 3. Key of the Bastille. 4. Dungeon Door
from the Abbey Prison, Paris. 5. Handcuffs. 6. Wrist and Neck-irons.]

the rest--were in his charge; he interrogated them at will, and might
add to their number by arresting dangerous or suspected persons, in
pursuit of whom he could enter and search private houses or take any
steps, however arbitrary. For all these purposes he had a large armed
force at his disposal, cavalry and infantry, nearly a thousand men in
all, and besides there was the city watch, the _chevaliers de guet_, or
"archers," who were seventy-one in number.


The first lieutenant-general of police in Paris was Gabriel Nicolas (who
assumed the name of la Reynie, from his estate), a young lawyer who had
been the _protégé_ of the Governor of Burgundy, and afterwards was taken
up by Colbert, Louis XIV.'s Minister. La Reynie is described by his
contemporaries as a man of great force of character, grave and silent
and self-reliant, who wielded his new authority with great judgment and
determination, and soon won the entire confidence of the autocratic
king. He lost no time in putting matters right. To clear out the Cour
des Miracles and expel all rogues was one of his first measures; his
second was to enforce the regulation forbidding servants to go armed.
Exemplary punishment overtook two footmen of a great house who had
beaten and wounded a student upon the Pont Neuf. They were apprehended,
convicted, and hanged, in spite of the strong protests of their masters.
La Reynie went farther, and revived the ancient regulation by which
servants could not come and go as they pleased, and none could be
engaged who did not possess papers _en règle_. The servants did not
submit kindly, and for some time evaded the new rule by carrying huge
sticks or canes, of which also they were eventually deprived.

The lieutenant-general of police was the censor of the Press, which was
more free-spoken than was pleasing to a despotic government, and often
published matter that was deemed libellous. The French were not yet
entirely cowed, and sometimes they dared to cry out against unjust
judges and thieving financiers; there were fierce factions in the
Church; Jesuit and Jansenist carried on a bitter polemical war; the
Protestants, unceasingly persecuted, made open complaint which brought
down on some of their exemplary clergy the penalty of the galleys. The
police had complete authority over printers and publishers, and could
deal sharply with all books, pamphlets, or papers containing libellous
statements or improper opinions. The most stringent steps were taken to
prevent the distribution of prohibited books. Philosophical works were
most disliked. Books when seized were dealt with as criminals and were
at once consigned to the Bastille. Twenty copies were set aside by the
governor, other twelve or fifteen were at the disposal of the higher
officials, the rest were handed over to the paper-makers to be torn up
and sold as waste paper or destroyed by fire in the presence of the
keeper of archives. Many of the books preserved in the Bastille and
found at the Revolution were proved to be insignificant and inoffensive,
and to have been condemned on the general charge of being libels either
on the queen and royal family or on the Ministers of State. Prohibited
books were not imprisoned until they had been tried and condemned; their
sentence was written on a ticket affixed to the sack containing them.
Condemned engravings were scratched and defaced in the presence of the
keeper of archives and the staff of the Bastille; and so wholesale was
the destruction of books that one paper-maker alone carried off 3,015
pounds weight of fragments. Seizures were often accompanied by the
arrest of printers and publishers, and an order to destroy the press and
distribute the bookseller's whole stock.

[Illustration: LOUIS XIV.

(_From an old Print._)]

Although la Reynie used every effort to check improper publications, he
was known as the patron and supporter of legitimate printing. Under his
auspices several notable editions issued from the press, and their
printers received handsome pensions from the State. He was a collector,
a bibliophile who gathered together many original texts; and he will
always deserve credit for having caused the chief manuscripts of the
great dramatist Molière to be carefully preserved.

Society was very corrupt in those days, honeycombed with vices,
especially gambling, which claimed the constant attention of a paternal
police. La Reynie was most active in his pursuit of gamblers. The rapid
fortunes made by dishonest means led to much reckless living, and
especially to an extraordinary development of play. Everyone gambled,
everywhere, in and out of doors, even in their carriages while
travelling to and fro. Louis XIV., as he got on in life, and more
youthful pleasures palled, played tremendously. His courtiers naturally
followed the example. It was not all fair play either; the temptation of
winning largely attracted numbers of "Greeks" to the gaming tables, and
cheating of all kinds was very common. The king gave frequent and
positive orders to check it. A special functionary who had jurisdiction
in the Court, the grand provost, was instructed to find some means of
preventing this constant cheating at play. At the same time la Reynie
sent Colbert a statement of the various kinds of fraud practised with
cards, dice, or _hoca_, a game played with thirty points and thirty
balls. The police lieutenant made various suggestions for checking these
malpractices; the card-makers were to be subjected to stringent
surveillance; it was useless to control the makers of dice, but they
were instructed to denounce all who ordered loaded dice. As to _hoca_,
it was, he said, far the most difficult and the most dangerous. The
Italians, who had originated the game, so despaired of checking cheating
in it that they had forbidden it in their own country. La Reynie's
anxiety was such that he begged the Minister to prohibit its
introduction at the Court, as the fashion would soon be followed in the
city. However, this application failed; the Court would not sacrifice
its amusements, and was soon devoted to _hoca_, with _lansquenet_,
_postique_, _trou-madame_, and other games of hazard.

The extent to which gambling was carried will be seen in the amounts
lost and won; it was easy, in _lansquenet_ or _hoca_, to win fifty or
sixty times in a quarter of an hour. Madame de Montespan, the king's
favourite, frequently lost a hundred thousand crowns at a sitting. One
Christmas Day she lost seven hundred thousand crowns. On another
occasion she laid a hundred and fifty thousand pistoles (£300,000) upon
three cards, and won. Another night, it is said, she won back five
millions which she had lost. Monsieur, the king's brother, also gambled
wildly. When campaigning he lost a hundred thousand francs to other
officers; once he was obliged to pledge the whole of his jewels to
liquidate his debts of honour.

Nevertheless the games of chance, if permitted at Court, were prohibited
elsewhere. The police continually harried the keepers of gambling hells;
those who offended were forced to shut up their establishments and
expelled from Paris. The king was disgusted at times, and reproved his
courtiers. He took one M. de Ventadour sharply to task for starting
_hoca_ in his house, and warned him that "this kind of thing must be
entirely ended." The exact opposite was the result: that and other games
gained steadily in popularity, and the number of players increased and
multiplied. The king promised la Reynie to put gambling down with a
strong hand, and called for a list of all hells and of those who kept
them. But the simple measure of beginning with the Court was not tried.
Had play been suppressed among the highest it would soon have gone out
of fashion; as it was, it flourished unchecked till the collapse of the
_ancien régime_.


It would be tedious to trace the succession of lieutenants-general
between la Reynie and de Crosne, the last, who was in office at the
outbreak of the French Revolution. One or two were remarkable in their
way: the elder D'Argenson, who was universally detested and feared; who
cleared out the low haunts with such ruthless severity that he was known
to the thieves and criminals as Rhadamanthus, or the judge of the
infernal regions; his son, D'Argenson the younger, who is held
responsible for the law of passports which made it death to go abroad
without one; Hérault, who persecuted the Freemasons, and was so noted
for his bigotry and intolerance. Of him the following story is told. In
one of his walks abroad he took offence at the sign at a shop door which
represented a priest bargaining about goods at a counter, with this
title, "L'Abbé Coquet." Returning home, he despatched an emissary to
fetch the Abbé Coquet, but gave no explanation. The agent went out and
picked up a priest of the name and brought him to Hérault's house. They
told him the Abbé Coquet was below. "Mettez-le dans le grenier" was
Hérault's brief order. Next day the abbé, half-starved, grew furious at
his detention, and Hérault's servants reported that they could do
nothing with him. "Eh! Brulez-le et laissez-moi tranquille!" replied
the chief of police, whereupon an explanation followed, and the Abbé
Coquet was released.


D'Ombréval, again, was a man of intolerant views. He especially
distinguished himself by his persistent persecution of the mad fanatics
called the _convulsionnaires_,[10] whom he ran down everywhere, pursuing
them into the most private places, respecting neither age nor sex, and
casting them wholesale into prison. Two of these victims were found in
the Conciergerie in 1775 who had been imprisoned for thirty-eight years.
The _convulsionnaires_ successfully defied the police in the matter of a
periodical print which they published secretly and distributed in the
very teeth of authority. This rare instance of baffled detection is
worth recording. The police were powerless to suppress the _Nouvelles
Ecclésiastiques_, as the paper was called. A whole army of active and
unscrupulous spies could not discover who wrote it or where it was
printed. Sometimes it appeared in the town, sometimes in the country. It
was printed, now in the suburbs, now among the piles of wood in the Gros
Caillou, now upon barges in the River Seine, now in private houses. A
thousand ingenious devices were practised to put it into circulation and
get it through the barriers. One of the cleverest was by utilising a
poodle dog which carried a false skin over its shaved body; between the
two the sheets were carefully concealed, and travelled safely into the
city. So bold were the authors of this print that on one occasion when
the police lieutenant was searching a house for a printing press several
copies of the paper still wet from the press were thrown into his


Berryer, a later lieutenant-general, owed his appointment to Madame de
Pompadour, whose creature he was, and his whole

[Illustration: DE SARTINE.

(_From the Engraving by Littret._)]

aim was to learn all that was said of her and against her, and then
avenge attack by summary arrests. At her instance he sent in a daily
statement of all the scandalous gossip current in the city, and he lent
his willing aid to the creation of the infamous _Cabinet Noir_, in which
the sanctity of all correspondence was violated and every letter read as
it passed through the post. A staff of clerks was always busy; they took
impressions of the seals with quicksilver, melted the wax over steam,
extracted the sheets, read them, and copied all parts that were thought
likely to interest the king and Madame de Pompadour. The treacherous
practice was well known in Paris, and so warmly condemned that it is
recorded in contemporary memoirs: "Dr. Quesnay furiously declared he
would sooner dine with the hangman than with the Intendant of Posts" who
countenanced such a base proceeding.


Perhaps the most famous and most successful police Minister of his time
was M. de Sartines, whose detective triumphs were mainly due to his
extensive system and to the activity of his nearly ubiquitous agents.
Two good stories are preserved of de Sartines' omniscience.

One of them runs that a great officer of State wrote him from Vienna
begging that a noted Austrian robber who had taken refuge in Paris might
be arrested and handed over. De Sartines immediately replied that it was
quite a mistake, the man wanted was not in Paris, but actually in
Vienna; he gave his exact address, the hours at which he went in and out
of his house, and the disguises he usually assumed. The information was
absolutely correct, and led to the robber's arrest.

Again, one of de Sartines' friends, the president of the High Court at
Lyons, ventured to deride his processes, declaring that they were of no
avail, and that anyone, if so disposed, could elude the police. He
offered a wager, which de Sartines accepted, that he could come into
Paris and conceal himself there for several days without the knowledge
of the police. A month later this judge left Lyons secretly, travelled
to Paris day and night, and on arrival took up his quarters in a remote
part of the city. By noon that day he received a letter, delivered at
his address, from de Sartines, who invited him to dinner and claimed
payment of the wager.

A great _coup_ was made by this adroit officer, but the interest of the
affair attaches rather to the thieves than to the police. It was on the
occasion of the marriage of Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette in 1770.
During the great fêtes in honour of the event an extraordinary tumult
arose in the Rue Royale, where it joins the modern Champs Élysées. A
gang of desperadoes had cunningly stretched cords across the street
under cover of the darkness, and the crowds moving out to the fêtes fell
over them in hundreds. The confusion soon grew general, and a frightful
catastrophe ensued. Men, women, and children, horses and carriages, were
mixed up in an inextricable tangle, and hundreds were trampled to death.
Some desperate men tried to hack out a passage with their swords,
children were passed from hand to hand over the heads of the


crowd, too often to fall and be swallowed up in the struggling gulf
below. No fewer than 2,470 people are said to have perished in this
horrible _mêlée_. It was, of course, a time of harvest for the thieves.
Apparently only one of the confraternity suffered from the crush, and on
him fifty watches were found and as many chains, gold and silver. Next
day de Sartines and his agents made wholesale arrests. Some three or
four hundred noted thieves were taken up and sent to the Conciergerie,
where they were strictly searched. Large quantities of valuables were
secured--watches, bracelets, rings, collars, purses, all kinds of
jewels. One robber alone had two thousand francs tied up in his

De Sartines kept a few criminals on hand for the strange purpose of
amusing fashionable society. It became the custom to have thieves to
perform in drawing-rooms. De Sartines, when asked, would obligingly send
to any great mansion a party of adroit pickpockets, who went through all
their tricks before a distinguished audience, cutting watch-chains,
stealing purses, snuffboxes, and jewellery.

This famous chief of police was the first to use espionage on a large
scale, and to employ detectives who were old criminals. When reproached
with this questionable practice, de Sartines defended it by asking,
"Where should I find honest folk who would agree to do such work?" It
was necessary for him to protect these unworthy agents by official
safe-conducts, which were worded as follows:--

                         "IN THE KING'S NAME.

     His Majesty, having private reasons for allowing ---- to conduct his
     affairs without interruption, accords him safe conduct for six
     months, and takes him under especial protection for that period.
     His Majesty orders that he shall be exempt from arrests and
     executions during that time; all officers and sergeants are
     forbidden to take action against him, gaolers shall not receive him
     for debt, under pain of dismissal. If notwithstanding this he
     should be arrested he must be at once set free, provided always
     that the safe-conduct does not save him from condemnations
     pronounced on the King's behalf."


Lenoir, who succeeded de Sartines, carried espionage still farther, and
employed a vast army of spies, paid and unpaid. Servants only got their
places on the condition that they kept the police informed of all that
went on in the houses where they served. The hawkers who paraded the
streets were in his pay. He had suborned members of the many existing
associations of thieves, and they enjoyed tolerance so long as they
denounced their accomplices. The gambling-houses were taken under police
protection; with the proviso that they paid over a percentage of profits
and reported all that occurred. People of good society who had got into
trouble were forgiven on condition that they watched their friends and
gave information of anything worth knowing. One fashionable agent was a
lady who entertained large parties and came secretly by a private
staircase to the police office with her budget of news. This woman was
only paid at the rate of £80 a year.

[Illustration: LENOIR.

(_From a Contemporary Print._)]


Thiroux de Crosne was the last lieutenant-general of police, and the
revolutionary upheaval was no doubt assisted by his ineptitude, his
marked want of tact and intelligence. While the city was mined under his
feet with the coming volcanic disturbances he gave all his energies to
theatrical censorship, and kept his agents busy reporting how often this
or that phrase was applauded. He was ready to imprison anyone who dared
offend a great nobleman, and was very severe upon critics and
pamphleteers. The absurd misuse of the censorship was no doubt one of
the contributing causes of the Revolution. The police were so anxious to
save the king, Louis XVI., from the pollution of reading the many libels
published that they allowed no printed matter to come near him. In this
way he was prevented from gauging the tendency of the times, or the
trend of public opinion. At last, wishing to learn the exact truth of
the vague rumours that reached him, he ordered a bookseller, Blaizot, to
send him everything that appeared. He soon surprised his Ministers by
the knowledge he displayed, and they set to work to find how it reached
him. Blaizot was discovered and sent to the Bastille. When the king,
wondering why he got no more pamphlets, inquired, he learnt that
Blaizot had been imprisoned by his order!

The monarchical police was quickly swept away by the French Revolution.
It was condemned as an instrument of tyranny; having only existed,
according to the high-sounding phrases of the period, to "sow distrust,
encourage perfidy, and substitute intrigue for public spirit." The open
official police thus disappeared, but it was replaced by another far
more noxious; a vast political engine, recklessly handled by every
bloodthirsty wretch who wielded power in those disastrous times. The
French Republicans, from the Committee of Public Safety to the last
revolutionary club, were all policemen--spying, denouncing, feeding the
guillotine. Robespierre had his own private police, and after his fall
numerous reports were found among his papers showing how close and
active was the surveillance he maintained through his spies, not only in
Paris alone, but all over France.

[Illustration: BARRAS.

(_From the Engraving by Allais._)]

Under the Directory the office of a Minister of Police was revived, not
without stormy protest, and the newly organised police soon became a
power in the Republic as tyrannical and inquisitorial as that of Venice.
It had its work cut out for it. Paris, the whole country, was in a state
of anarchy, morals were at their lowest point, corruption and crime
everywhere rampant. The streets of the city, all the high roads, were
infested with bands of robbers with such wide ramifications that a
general guerilla warfare terrorised the provinces. We shall see more of
this on a later page, when describing the terrible bandits named
_Chauffeurs_, from their practice of torturing people by toasting their
feet before the fire until they gave up their hidden treasure.


Nine police Ministers quickly followed each other between 1796 and 1799,
men of no particular note; but at last Barras fixed


upon Fouché as a person he imagined to be well qualified for the
important post. He thus gave a first opening to one whose name is almost
synonymous with policeman--the strong, adroit, unscrupulous manipulator
of the tremendous underground forces he created and controlled, the man
who for many years practically divided with Napoleon the empire of
France. The emperor had the ostensible supremacy, but his many absences
on foreign wars left much of the real power in his Minister's hands.
Fouché's aptitudes for police work must have been instinctive, for he
had no special training or experience when summoned to the post of
Police Minister. He had begun life as a professor, and was known as _le
Père Fouché_, a member of the Oratory, although he did not actually take
religious orders. Born in the seaport town of Nantes, he was at first
designed for his father's calling--the sea; but at school his favourite
study was theology and polemics, so that his masters strongly advised
that he should be made a priest. Something of the suppleness, the quiet,
passionless self-restraint, the patient, observant craftiness of the
ecclesiastic remained with him through life.

The Revolution found him in his native town, prefect of his college of
Nantes, married, leading an obscure and blameless life. He soon threw
himself into the seething current, and was sent to the National
Convention as representative for La Nièvre. It is needless to follow his
political career, in which, with that readiness to change his coat which
was second nature to him, he espoused many parties in turn, and long
failed to please any, least of all Robespierre, who called him "a vile,
despicable impostor." But the Directory was friendly to him, and
appointed him its minister, first at Milan, then in Holland, whence he
was recalled by Barras, whom he had obliged in various matters, to take
the Ministry of Police. He had always been in touch with popular
movements, knew men and things intimately, and, it was hoped, would
check the more turbulent spirits.

Fouché saw his chance when Bonaparte rose above the horizon. He was no
real Republican; all his instincts were towards despotism and arbitrary
personal government. It may well be believed that he contributed much to
the success of the 18th Brumaire; this born conspirator could best
handle all the secret threads that were needed to establish the new
power. He has said in his Memoirs that the revolution of Saint-Cloud
must have failed but for him, and he was willing enough to support it.
"I should have been an idiot not to prefer a future to nothing. My ideas
were fixed. I deemed Bonaparte alone fitted to carry out the changes
rendered imperatively necessary by our manners, our vices, our errors
and excesses, our misfortunes and unhappy differences." When the
Consulate was established, Fouché was one of the most important
personages in France. He had ample means at his disposal, and he did not
hesitate to use them freely to strengthen his position; he bought
assistance right and left, had his paid creatures everywhere, even at
Bonaparte's elbow, it was said, and had bribed Josephine and Bourrienne
to betray the inmost secrets of the palace. The strength and extent of
his system--created by necessity, perfected by sheer love of
intrigue--was soon realised by his master, who saw that Fouché united
the police and all its functions in his own person, and might easily
prove a menace to his newly acquired power.

[Illustration: FOUCHÉ.

(_From the Engraving by Couché._)]

So Fouché was suppressed, but only for a couple of years, during which
nearer dangers, conspiracies threatening the very life of Napoleon, led
the emperor to recall the astute, all-powerful Minister, who meanwhile
had maintained a private police of his own. Fouché had his faithful
agents abroad, and showed himself better served, better informed, than
the emperor himself. He proved this by giving Napoleon an early copy of
a circular by the exiled Bourbon king about to be issued in Paris, the
existence of which was unknown to the official police. When Fouché
returned to the Prefecture, it was to stay. For some eight years he was
indispensable. The emperor seemed to rely upon him entirely, passing
everything on to him. "Send it to Fouché; it is his business," was the
endorsement on innumerable papers of that time. The provincial _préfets_
looked only to Fouché; the Police Minister was the sole repository of
power, the one person to please; his orders were sought and accepted
with blind submission by all. He might have remained in office to the
end of the imperial _régime_ but that he became too active and meddled
with matters quite beyond his province; and his downfall was hastened by
a daring intrigue to bring about a secret compact with England and
secure peace.


Fouché's successor was General Savary, one of Napoleon's most devoted
and uncompromising adherents, an indifferent soldier and a conceited,
self-sufficient man. He will always be stigmatised as the executioner of
the Duc d'Enghien, one ready to go any lengths in blind obedience to his
master's behests. His appointment as chief of the police caused
universal consternation; it was dreaded as the inauguration of an epoch
of brutal military discipline, the advent of the soldier-policeman,
whose iron hand would be heavy upon all. Wholesale arrests,
imprisonments, and exiles were anticipated. Savary himself, although
submissively accepting his new and strange duties, shrank from executing
them. He would gladly have declined the honour of becoming Police
Minister, but the emperor would not excuse him, and, taking him by the
hand, tried to stiffen his courage by much counsel. The advice he freely
gave is worth recording in part, as expressing the views of a monarch
who was himself the best police officer of his time.

"Ill-use no one," he told Savary as they strolled together through the
park of Saint-Cloud. "You are supposed to be a severe man, and it would
give a handle to my enemies if you were found harsh and reactionary.
Dismiss none of your present employees; if any displease you, keep them
at least six months, and then find them other situations. If you have to
adopt stern measures, be sure they are justified, and it will at least
be admitted that you are doing your duty.... Do not imitate your
predecessor, who allowed me to be blamed for sharp measures and took to
himself the credit of any acts of leniency. A good police officer is
quite without passion. Allow yourself to hate no one; listen to all, and
never commit yourself to an opinion until you have thought it well
over.... I removed Monsieur Fouché because I could no longer rely upon
him. When I no longer gave him orders, he acted on his own account and
left me to bear the responsibility. He was always trying to find out
what I meant to do, so as to forestall me, and, as I became more and
more reserved, he accepted as true what others told him, and so got
farther and farther astray."

[Illustration: SAVARY.

(_From the Engraving by Sixdeniers._)]

Savary, on assuming the reins of office, found himself in a serious
dilemma. He could hardly have anticipated that Fouché would make his
task easy for him, but the result was even worse than he had expected.
He had been weak enough to allow Fouché three weeks to clear out of the
Ministry, and his wily predecessor had made the best use of his time to
burn and destroy every paper of consequence that he possessed. When he
finally handed over his charge, he produced one meagre document
alone--an abusive memorandum, two years old, inveighing against the
exiled House of Bourbon. Every other paper had disappeared. He was no
less malicious with regard to the secret staff of the office. The only
persons he presented to the new chief were a few low-class spies whom he
had never largely trusted; and although Savary raised some of them to
higher functions he was still deprived of the assistance of the superior
agents upon whom Fouché had so greatly relied. Savary solved this
difficulty cleverly. He found in his office a registry of addresses for
the use of the messengers who delivered letters. This registry was kept
by his clerks, and, not wishing to let them into his design, he took the
registry one night into his private study and copied out the whole list
himself. He found many names he little expected; names which, as he has
said, he would have expected sooner to find in China than in this
catalogue. Many addresses had, however, no indication but a single
initial, and he guessed--no doubt rightly--that these probably related
to the most important agents of all.

Having thus gained the addresses, Savary proceeded to summon each person
to his presence by a letter written in the third person, and transmitted
by his office messengers. He never mentioned the hour of the interview,
but was careful never to send for two people on the same day. His secret
agents came as requested, generally towards evening, and before they
were ushered in Savary took the precaution to inquire from his groom of
the chambers whether they came often to see Monsieur Fouché. The servant
had almost invariably seen them before, and could give many interesting
particulars about them. Thus Savary knew how to receive them; to be warm
or cold in his welcome as he heard how they had been treated by his
predecessor. He dealt in much the same way with the persons known only
under an initial. He wrote also to them at their addresses, and sent the
letters by confidential clerks who were known personally to the
_concierges_ of the houses where the agents resided. The Parisian
_concierge_ was as much an inquisitive busybody in those days as now;
curious about his lodgers' correspondence, and knowing exactly to whom
he should deliver a letter with the initial address. It required only a
little adroitness to put a name to these hitherto unknown people when
they called in person at his office. It sometimes happened that more
than one person having the same initial resided in the same house. If
the _concierge_ made the mistake of handing two letters to one
individual, Savary, when he called, explained that his clerks had
inadvertently written to him twice. In every case the letter of summons
contained a request that the letter might be brought to the office as a
passport to introduction. Savary adopted another method of making the
acquaintance of the secret _personnel_. He ordered his cashier to inform
him whenever a secret agent called for his salary. At first, being
suspicious of the new _régime_, very few persons came, but the second
and third month self-interest prevailed; people turned up, merely to
inquire, as they said, and were invariably passed on to see the chief.
Savary took the visit as a matter of course, discussing business, and
often increasing voluntarily their rates of payment. By this means he
not only re-established his connection, but greatly extended it.

Savary's system of espionage was even more searching and comprehensive
than Fouché's, and before long earned him the sobriquet of the "Sheik of
Spies." He had a whole army at his disposal--the gossips and
_gobe-mouches_ of the clubs, the cabmen and street porters, the workmen
in the suburbs. When fashionable Paris migrated to their country houses
for the summer and early autumn, Savary followed them with his spies,
whom he found among their servants, letter-carriers, even their guests.
He also reversed the process, and actually employed masters to spy on
their servants, obliging every householder to transmit a report to the
police of every change in their establishments, and of the conduct of
the persons employed. He essayed also to make valets spy on those whom
they served, so that a man became less than ever a hero to his valet.

It followed, naturally, that Savary was the most hated of all the
tyrants who wielded the power of the police prefecture. He spared no
one; he bullied the priests; he increased the rigours of the wretched
prisoners of war at Bitche and Verdun; and exercised such an irritating,
vexatious, ill-natured surveillance over the whole town, over every
class--political, social, and criminal--that he was soon universally
hated. He was a stupid man, eaten up with vanity and self-importance;
extremely jealous of his authority, and ever on the look out to
vindicate it if he thought it assailed. Never perhaps did more inflated,
unjustifiable pride precede a more humiliating fall. Savary's
pretensions as a police officer were utterly shipwrecked by the
conspiracy of General Malet, a semi-madman, who succeeded in shaking
Napoleon's throne to its very foundations and making his military Police
Minister supremely ridiculous.

This General Malet was a born conspirator. He had done little as a
soldier, but had been concerned in several plots against Napoleon, for
the last of which he had been cast into the prison of La Force. During
his seclusion he worked out the details of a new conspiracy, based upon
the most daring and yet simplest design. He meant to take advantage of
the emperor's absence from Paris, and, announcing his death, declare a
Provisional Government, backed by the troops, of whom he would boldly
take command. It all fell out as he had planned, and, but for one
trifling accident, the plot would have been entirely successful. Paris
at the moment he rose was weakly governed. Cambacères represented the
emperor; Savary held the police, but, in spite of his espionage, knew
nothing of Malet, and little of the real state of Paris below the
surface; Pasquier, prefect of police, was an admirable administrator,
but not a man of action. The garrison of Paris was composed mainly of
raw levies, for all the best troops were away with Napoleon in Russia,
and the commandant of the place, General Hullin, was a sturdy
soldier--no more: a mere child outside the profession of arms.

[Illustration: MALET IN PRISON.

(_From the Drawing by A. Lacauchie._)]

Malet had influence with Fouché, through which, before that Minister's
disgrace, he had obtained his transfer from La Force to a "Maison de
Santé" in the Faubourg St. Antoine. In this half asylum, half place of
detention, the inmates were suffered to come and go on parole, to
associate freely with one another, and to receive any visitors they
pleased from outside. In this convenient retreat, which sheltered other
irreconcilable spirits, Malet soon matured his plot. His chief
confederate--the only one, indeed, he fully trusted--was a certain Abbé
Lafone, a man of great audacity and determination, who had already been
mixed up in Royalist plots against the empire. The two kept their own
counsel, alive to the danger of treachery and betrayal in taking others
into their full confidence; but Malet could command the services of two
generals, Guidal and Laborie, with whom he had been intimate at La
Force, but who never knew the whole aim and extent of the conspiracy.

About 8 p.m. on the 23rd of October, 1812, Malet and the Abbé left the
Faubourg St. Antoine, and Malet, now in full uniform, appeared at the
gates of the neighbouring barracks, where he announced the news,
received by special courier, of the emperor's death, produced a
resolution from the Senate proclaiming a Provisional Government, and
investing him with the supreme command of the troops. Under his orders,
officers were despatched with strong detachments to occupy the principal
parts of the city, the barriers, the quays, the Prefecture, the Place
Royal, and other open squares. Another party was sent to the prison of
La Force to extract Generals Laborie and Guidal, the first of whom, when
he joined Malet, was despatched to the prefecture and thence to the
Ministry of Police, to seize both the _préfet_ and Savary and carry them
off to gaol. Guidal was to support Laborie. Malet himself, with another
body of troops, proceeded to the Place Vendôme, the military
headquarters of Paris, and proposed to make the Commandant Hullin his

The arrest of the heads of the police was accomplished without the
slightest difficulty about 8 a.m. on the 24th of October, and they were
transported under escort to La Force. (Savary ever afterwards was
nicknamed the Duc de la Force.) Malet meanwhile had roused General
Hullin, to whom he presented his false credentials. As the general
passed into an adjoining room to examine them, Malet fired a pistol at
him and "dropped" him. Then the Adjutant-General Dorcet interposed, and,
seizing his papers, instantly detected the forgery. Malet was on the
point of shooting him also, when a staff-officer rushed up from behind,
and, backed by a handful of his guard, easily overpowered Malet. From
that moment the attempt collapsed. The Police Minister and the _préfet_
were released from prison; the conspirators were arrested. Yet for a few
hours Malet had been master of Paris.

Napoleon was furiously angry with everyone, and loaded the police in
particular with abuse. He did not, however, remove Savary from his
office, for he knew he could still trust him, and this was no time to
lose the services of a devoted friend. The insecurity of his whole
position had been clearly manifested. One man, a prisoner, had, by his
own inventive audacity, succeeded in suborning or imposing upon superior
officers and securing the assistance of large bodies of troops, in
forcing prison doors, arresting Ministers and high officials, and
seizing the reins of power. No one had stood against him; the powers
wielded by authority were null and void; chance alone, a mere accident,
had spoilt the enterprise.


At the restoration of the Bourbons the police organisation was revised,
but still left in much the same hands--ex-Napoleonists, such as Beugnot
and Bourrienne, who were director-general and prefect respectively. The
latter distinguished himself by a fruitless attempt to arrest his old
enemy Fouché, who was living quietly in Paris, holding aloof from
affairs as he had done through the closing days of the Empire. Fouché
escaped from the police officers by climbing over his garden wall, and
then went into hiding. He was thus thrown back into the ranks of the
Imperialists, and, on the return from Elba, was at once nominated to his
old office of chief of police, where he made himself extremely useful to
Napoleon. But he played a double part, as usual; had friends in both
camps, and, after giving the emperor much valuable information as to the
movements of the Allies before Waterloo, went over to the victors after
the battle. Fouché was extraordinarily busy in shaping events at the
final downfall of Napoleon, and he was one of the first to approach
Wellington with suggestions as to the emperor's disposal. He seems to
have gained the Duke's goodwill, and Wellington urged Louis XVIII. to
appoint him afresh, as the person who could be best trusted to maintain
public order, to the directorship of the police. Fouché had many friends
in high places; he had also the knack of seeming to be indispensable. It
was a severe blow to the king that Fouché should be forced upon him.
When the order of appointment was placed before him for signature, he
glanced at it, and let it lie upon the table, and the pen slipped from
his hand; he long sat buried in sad thought before he could rouse
himself to open relations with the man who had been hitherto the
implacable foe of his family.


Fouché gained his point; but where all knew, all watched, and none
trusted him, he needed all his _sang froid_, all his tact, to hold his
position. But in his long career of conspiracy and change he had learnt
the lesson of dissimulation and self-restraint. Yet he was still the
focus and centre of intrigue, to whom everyone flocked--his old
associates, once his friends and now his hardly concealed enemies; the
men who had been his enemies and were now on the surface his friends.
His antechamber showed the most mixed assemblage. "He went among them,
from one to the other, speaking with the same ease as though he had the
same thing to say to all. How often have I seen him creeping away from
the window where he had been talking apart with some old
comrade--Thibaudeau, for example, the ancient revolutionist--on the most
friendly, confidential terms, to join us, a party of royalists, about an
affair concerning the king. A little later Fouché inserted Thibaudeau's
name in the list of the proscribed."[11]

[Illustration: THIBAUDEAU.

(_From a Contemporary Print._)]

Fouché has been very differently judged by his contemporaries. Some
thought him an acute and penetrating observer, with a profound insight
into character; knowing his epoch, the men and matters appertaining to
it, intimately and by heart. Others, like Bourrienne, despised and
condemned him. "I know no man," says the latter, "who has passed through
such an eventful period, who has taken part in so many convulsions, who
so barely escaped disgrace and was yet loaded with honours." The keynote
of his character, thought Bourrienne, was great levity and inconstancy
of mind. Yet he carried out his schemes, planned with mathematical
exactitude, with the utmost precision. He had an insinuating manner;
could seem to speak freely when he was only drawing others on. A
retentive memory and a great grasp of facts enabled him to hold his own
with many masters, and turn most things to his own advantage. He did not
long survive the Restoration, and died at Trieste in 1820, leaving
behind him a very considerable fortune.



EARLY POLICE (_continued_): ENGLAND.

     Early Police in England--Edward I.'s Act--Elizabeth's Act for
     Westminster--Acts of George II. and George III.--State of London
     towards the end of the Eighteenth Century--Gambling and Lottery
     Offices--Robberies on the River Thames--Receivers--Coiners--The
     Fieldings as Magistrates--The Horse Patrol--Bow Street and its
     Runners: Townsend, Vickery, and others--Blood Money--Tyburn
     Tickets--Negotiations with Thieves to recover stolen
     Property--Sayer--George Ruthven--Serjeant Ballantine on the Bow
     Street Runners compared with modern Detectives.

If a century or more ago France and other Continental countries were
generally over-policed, England, as a free country, long refused to
surrender its liberties. Until quite recent years there was no organised
provision for public safety, for the maintenance of good order, the
prevention of crime, or the pursuit of law-breakers. Good citizens
co-operated in self-defence; the office of constable was incumbent upon
all, but evaded by many on payment of substitutes. One of the earliest
efforts to establish a systematic police was the statute 13th Edward I.
(1285), made for the maintenance of peace in the city of London. This
ancient statute was known as that of Watch and Ward, and it recognised
the above principle that the inhabitants of every district must combine
for their own protection. It recites how "many evils, as murders,
robberies, and manslaughters,

[Illustration: "ONE O'CLOCK AND A SHINY NIGHT!"]

have been committed by night and by day, and people have been beaten and
evilly entreated"; it is enjoined that "none be so hardy as to be found
going or wandering about the streets of the city with sword or buckler
after curfew tolled at St. Martin's Le Grand." It goes on to say that
any such should be taken by the keepers of the peace and be put in the
place of confinement appointed for such offenders, to be dealt with as
the custom is, and punished if the offence is proved. This Act further
prescribed that as such persons sought shelter "in taverns more than
elsewhere, lying in wait and watching their time to do mischief," no
tavern might be allowed to remain open "for sale of ale or wine" after
the tolling of curfew. Many smaller matters were dealt with so as to
ensure the peace of the city. It was enacted that, "forasmuch as fools
who delight in mischief do learn to fence with buckler," no school to
teach the art of fencing should be allowed within the city. Again, many
pains and penalties were imposed on foreigners who sought shelter and
refuge in England "by reason of banishment out of their own country, or
who, for great offence, have fled therefrom." Such persons were
forbidden to become innkeepers, "unless they have good report from the
parts whence they cometh, or find safe pledges." That these persons were
a source of trouble is pretty plain from the language of the Act, which
tells how "some nothing do but run up and down through the streets more
by night than by day, and are well attired in clothing and array, and
have their food of delicate meats and costly; neither do they use any
craft or merchandise, nor have they lands and tenements whereof to live,
nor any friend to find them; and through such persons many perils do
often happen in the city, and many evils, and some of them are found
openly offending, as in robberies, breaking of houses by night, murders,
and other evil deeds."

Another police Act, as it may be called, was that of 27th Elizabeth
(1585) for the good government of the city and borough of Westminster,
which had been recently enlarged. "The people thereof being greatly
increased, and being for the most part without trade or industry, and
many of them wholly given to vice and idleness," and a power to correct
them not being sufficient in law, the Dean of Westminster and the High
Steward were given greater authority. They were entitled to examine and
punish "all matters of incontinences, common scolds, and common
annoyances, and to commit to prison all who offended against the peace."
Certain ordinances were made by this Act for regulating the domestic
life of the city of Westminster; the bakers and the brewers, the
colliers, wood-mongers, and bargemen were put under strict rule; no
person was suffered to forestall or "regrate" the markets so as to
increase the price of victuals by buying them up beforehand; the cooks
and the tavern-keepers were kept separate: no man might sell ale and
keep a cookshop at the same time; the lighting of the city was imposed
upon the victuallers and tavern-keepers, who were ordered to keep one
convenient lanthorn at their street doors from six p.m. until nine a.m.
next morning, "except when the moon shall shine and give light." Rogues
and sturdy beggars were forbidden to wander in the streets under pain of
immediate arrest. Many other strict regulations were made for the health
and sanitation of the burgesses, such as the scavenging and cleansing
of the streets, the punishment of butchers, poulterers, and fishmongers
who might sell unwholesome food, the strict segregation of persons
infected with the plague. It is interesting to note that Sir William
Cecil, the great Lord Burleigh, was the first High Steward of
Westminster, and that the regulations above quoted were introduced by

These Acts remained in force for many centuries, although the powers
entrusted to the High Steward fell into great disuse. But in the 10th
George II. (1737) the Elizabethan Act was re-enacted and its powers
enlarged. This was an Act for well-ordering and regulating a night watch
in the city--"a matter of very great importance for the preservation of
the persons and properties of the inhabitants, and very necessary to
prevent fires, murders, burglaries, robberies, and other outrages and
disorders." It had been found that all such precautions were utterly
neglected, and now the Common Council of the city was authorised to
create a night watch and levy rates to pay it. The instructions for this
night watch were issued through the constables of wards and precincts,
the old constitutional authority, who were expected to see them
observed. But the night-watchmen could act in the absence of the
constable when keeping watch and ward, and were enjoined to apprehend
all night-walkers, malefactors, rogues, vagabonds, and disorderly
persons whom they found disturbing the public peace, or whom they
suspected of evil designs.

Forty years later another Act was passed, 14th George III. (1777), which
again enlarged and, in a measure, superseded the last-mentioned Act. It
is much more detailed, prescribing the actual number of watchmen, their
wages, and how they are to be "armed and accommodated," which means that
they were to carry rattles and staves and lanterns; it details minutely
the watchman's duty: how he is to proclaim the time of the night or
morning "loudly and as audibly as he can"; he is to see that all doors
are safe and well secured; he is to prevent "to the utmost of his power
all murders, burglaries, robberies, and affraies; he is to apprehend all
loose, idle, and disorderly persons, and deliver them to the constable
or headborough of the night at the watch-houses." It may be stated at
once that this Act, however excellent in intention and carefully
designed, greatly failed in execution. The watchmen often proved
unworthy of their trust, and it is recorded by that eminent


(_After the Picture by R. Collett._)]

police magistrate, Mr. Colquhoun, "that no small portion of those very
men who are paid for protecting the public are not only instruments of
oppression in many instances, by extorting money most unwarrantably, but
are frequently accessories in aiding and abetting or concealing the
commission of crimes which it is their duty to detect and suppress." It
is but fair to add that Sir John Fielding, who was examined in 1772 as
to the numerous burglaries committed in the metropolis, stated that the
watch was insufficient, "that their duty was too hard and their pay too

[Illustration: A HIGHWAY ROBBERY.]

Beyond question the state of the metropolis, and, indeed, of the country
at large, at the end of the eighteenth century was deplorable. Robbery
and theft from houses and on the highway had been reduced to a regular
system. Opportunities were sought, intelligence obtained, plans prepared
with the utmost skill and patience. Houses to be forced were previously
reconnoitred, and watched for days and weeks in advance. The modern
burglar could have taught the old depredator little that he did not
know. Again, the gentleman of the road--the bold highwayman--used
infinite pains in seeking out his prey. He had his spies in every
quarter, among all classes, and the earliest certain intelligence of
travellers worth stopping when carrying money and other valuables; he
could count upon the cordial support of publicans and ostlers, who
helped him in his attack and covered his retreat. The footpads who
infested the streets were quite as daring; it was unsafe to cross open
spaces, even in the heart of the town, after dark. These lesser thieves,
so adroit in picking pockets by day, used actual violence by night. The
country was continually ravaged by other depredators: horse and cattle
stealers, thieves who laid hands upon every kind of agricultural
produce. The farmers' fields were constantly plundered of their crops,
fruit and vegetables were carried off, even the ears of wheat were cut
from their stalks in the open day. It was estimated that one and a half
million bushels were annually stolen in this way. The thieves boldly
took their plunder to the millers to be ground, and the millers,
although aware that fields and barns had been recently robbed, did not
dare object, lest their mills should be burnt over their heads.


No doubt the general level of morality was low. Gambling of all kinds
had increased enormously. There were gaming-houses and lottery offices
everywhere. Faro banks and E. O. tables, and places where hazard,
roulette, and rouge-et-noir could be played, had multiplied exceedingly.
Six gaming-houses were kept in one street near the Haymarket, mostly by
prize-fighters, and persons stood at the doors inviting passers-by to
enter and play. Besides these, there were subscription clubs of
presumably a higher class, and even ladies' gaming-houses. The public
lotteries were also a fruitful source of crime, not only in the stimulus
they gave to speculation, but in their direct encouragement of fraud. A
special class of swindlers was created--the lottery insurers, the
sharpers who pretended to help the lottery players against loss by
insuring the amount of their stakes. Offices for fraudulent lottery
insurance existed all over the town. It was estimated that there were
400 of them, supporting 2,000 agents and clerks, and 7,500 "morocco
men," as they were called--the canvassers who went from door to door
soliciting insurances, which they entered in a book covered with red
morocco leather. It was said that these unlicensed offices obtained
premiums of nearly two millions of money when the English and Irish
lotteries were being drawn, on which they made a profit of from 15 to 25
per cent. It was proved by calculating the chances that they were some
33 per cent. in favour of the insurers. Even in those days the principle
of profiting by the gambling spirit of the public was strongly
condemned, but lotteries survived until 1826, since when the law has
dealt severely with any specious attempts to reintroduce them under
other names.


At this time the plunder of merchandise and naval stores in the River
Thames had reached gigantic proportions. Previous to the establishment
of the Thames river police in 1798 the commerce of the country, all the
operations of merchants and shipowners, were grievously injured by these
wholesale depredations, which amounted at a moderate computation to
quite half a million per annum. There were, first of all, the river
pirates, who boarded unprotected ships in the stream. One gang of them
actually weighed a ship's anchor, hoisted it into their boat with a
complete new cable, and rowed away with their spoil. These villains hung
about vessels newly arrived and cut away anything within reach--cordage,
spars, bags of cargo. They generally went armed, and were prepared to
fight for what they seized. There were the "heavy horsemen and the light
horsemen," the "game watermen," the "game lightermen," the "mudlarks and
the scuffle-hunters," each of them following a particular line of their
own. Some of these, with the connivance of watchmen or without, would
cut lighters adrift and lead them to remote places where they could be
pillaged and their contents carried away. Cargoes of coal, Russian
tallow, hemp, and ashes were often secured in this way. The "light
horsemen" did a large business in the spillings, drainings, and
sweepings of sugar, coffee, and rum; these gleanings were greatly
increased by fraudulent devices, and were carried off with the
connivance of the mates, who shared in the profit. The "heavy horsemen"
were smuggled on board to steal whatever they could find--coffee, cocoa,
pimento, ginger, and so forth, which they carried on shore concealed
about their persons in pouches and pockets under their clothes. The


(_From a Print by Gillray, published in 1796._)]

"game watermen" worked by quickly receiving what was handed to them when
cargoes were being discharged, and this they conveyed at once to some
secret place; the "game lightermen" were of the same class, who used
their lighters to conceal stolen parcels of goods which they could
afterwards dispose of.

A clever trick is told of one of these thieves, who long did a big
business in purloining oil. A merchant who imported great quantities was
astonished at the constant deficiency in the amounts landed, far more
than could be explained by ordinary leakage. He determined to attend at
the wharf when the lighters arrived, and he saw that in one of them all
the casks had been stowed with their bungs downwards. He waited until
the lighter was unloaded, and then, visiting her, found the hold full of
oil. This the lightermen impudently claimed as their perquisite; but the
merchant refused to entertain the idea, and, having sent for casks,
filled nine of them with the leakage. Still dissatisfied, he ordered the
deck to be taken up, and found between the timbers of the lighter enough
to fill five casks more. No doubt this robbery had been long practised.

"Mudlarks" were only small fry who hung about the stern quarters of
ships at low water to receive and carry on shore any pickings they might
secure. The "scuffle-hunters" resorted in large numbers to the wharves
where goods were discharged, and laid hands upon any plunder they could
find, chiefly the contents of broken packets, for which they fought and

Before leaving this branch of depredation mention must be made of the
plunder levied on his Majesty's Dockyards, the Naval Victualling and
Ordnance Stores, which were perpetually pillaged, as were the warships,
transports, and lighters in the Thames, Medway, Solent, and Dart. Over
and above the peculations of employees, the frauds and embezzlements in
surveys, certificates, and accounts, there was nearly wholesale pillage
in such articles as cordage, canvas, hinges, bolts, nails, timber,
paint, pitch, casks, beef, pork, biscuit, and indeed all kinds of
stores. No definite figures are at hand giving the value of these
robberies, but they must have reached an enormous total.


The extensive robberies described above were, no doubt, greatly
facilitated by the many means that existed for the disposal of the
stolen goods. Never did the nefarious trade of the "receiver" flourish
so widely as then. This, the most mischievous class of criminal, without
whom the thief would find his calling hazardous and unproductive, was
extraordinarily numerous at this period. There were several thousands in
the Metropolis alone, a few of them no more than careless, asking no
questions about the property brought to them for purchase, but the bulk
of them distinctly criminal, who bought goods well knowing them to be
stolen. Many had been thieves themselves, but had found "receiving" a
less hazardous and more profitable trade; they followed ostensibly some
reputable calling--kept coalsheds, potato warehouses, and chandler's
shops--some were publicans, others dealt in secondhand furniture, old
clothes, old iron, and rags, or were workers and refiners of gold and
silver. These were the rank and file, the retailers, so to speak, who
passed on what was brought to them to the wholesale "receivers," of whom
at that time there were some fifty or sixty, opulent people many of
them, commanding plenty of capital. These high-class operators had their
crucibles and their furnaces always ready for melting down plate; they
had extensive connections beyond sea for the disposal of valuables,
especially of jewels, which were taken from their settings to prevent

These great "fences"--the cant name for "receivers"--worked as large and
lucrative a business as do any of their successors to-day. A wide
connection was the first essential. Often enough the thieves arranged
with the "receivers" before they entered upon any new job, and thus the
latter kept touch with the operators, who gladly parted with their
plunder at easy prices, being unable to dispose of it alone. It was a
first principle with the "receiver" that the goods he purchased should
not be recognisable, and until all marks and means of identification
were removed he would not admit them into his house. He would not even
discuss terms until the thieves had taken this precaution. Various
methods were employed. In linen and cloth goods the head and fag-ends
were cut off, and occasionally the list and selvedge, if they were
peculiar. The marks on the soles of boots and shoes were obliterated by
hot irons, and the linings, if necessary, removed. Gold watches were
sent off to agents in large towns or on the Continent, their outward
appearance having first been changed; the works of one were placed in
the case of another. Where the proceeds of the robbery were banknotes,
or property whose identity could not be destroyed, they were sent off to
a distance to foreign marts, and all traces of them lost. It was
essential that the "receiver" on a large scale should have an army of
agents and co-partners--persons following the same nefarious traffic,
who could be trusted, for their own sakes, to be cautious in their


The general crime of this period was enormously increased by the
extensive fabrication of false money. Coining was extraordinarily
prevalent, and a wide, far-reaching system had been created for
distributing and uttering the counterfeits, not only at home but on the
Continent. All England, all Europe, was literally deluged with false
money, the largest proportion of which was manufactured in this country.
Not only was the current coinage of the realm admirably
counterfeited--guineas, half-guineas, crowns, half-crowns, shillings,
sixpences, and coppers, but the coiners could turn out all kinds of
foreign money--louis d'ors, Spanish dollars, sequins, pagodas, and the
rest, so cleverly imitated as almost to defy detection. So prosperous
was the business that as many as forty or fifty private mints were
constantly at work in London and various country towns fabricating false
money; as many as 120 workpeople were engaged, and the names of some 650
known coiners were registered at the Royal Mint. There was a steady
demand for the base coin; it went off so fast that the manufacturers
seldom had any stock on hand. As soon as it was finished it was sent
off, here, there, and everywhere, by every kind of conveyance. Not a
coach nor a carrier left London without a parcel of bad money consigned
to country agents. It was known that one agent alone had placed five
hundred pounds' worth with country buyers in a single week. Some idea of
the profits may be gathered from the fact that Indian pagodas, worth
8s., could be manufactured for 1-1/2d. apiece; and that the middleman
who bought them at 5s. a dozen retailed them at from 2s. 3d. to 5s.
each. The counterfeiting of gold coins was the least common, owing to
the expense of the process and the necessary admixture of at least a
portion of the precious metal. It was different with silver. It was
stated that two persons alone could manufacture between two and three
hundred pounds' worth (nominal value) of spurious silver in six days.
There were five kinds of base silver, known in the trade as flats,
plated goods, plain goods, castings, and "pig things." The first were
cut out of flattened plates of a material part silver, part copper; the
second were of copper only, silvered over; the third were of copper,
turned out of a lathe and polished; the fourth were of white metal, cast
in a mould; the "pig things" were the refuse of the rest converted into
sixpences. Copper coins were also manufactured largely out of base


Frauds on the currency were not limited to counterfeiting the coinage.
Banknotes were systematically forged, although the penalty was death.
This crime had been greatly stimulated by the suspension of specie
payments and the issue of paper money. The Bank of England had been thus
saved at a great financial crisis, when its reserve in cash and bullion
had shrunk to little more than a million, and it had issued notes for
values of less than five pounds. Note forgery at once increased to a
serious extent, and as the Bank was implacable, insisting on rigorous
prosecution, great numbers of capital convictions followed. The most
minute and elaborate provisions existed, prescribing the heaviest
penalties not only for the actual manufacture and uttering, but for the
mere possession of banknote paper, plates, or engraving tools. The
infliction of the extreme sentence did not check the crime. Detection,
too, was most difficult. The public could not distinguish between true
and false notes. Bank officials were sometimes deceived, and clerks at
the counter were known to accept bad paper, yet refuse payment of what
was genuine. Some account will be given on a later page of Charles
Price, commonly called "Old Patch," from his favourite disguise of a
patch on one eye. He was a most extraordinarily successful forger of
banknotes, who did all but the negotiation of them himself: he made his
paper with the correct watermark, engraved his plates, and prepared his
own ink. He had several homes, many aliases, used many disguises, and
employed an army of agents and assistants, some of them his wives (for
he was a noted bigamist), to put off the notes.



An early and commendable attempt had been made in the middle of the
eighteenth century to grapple with this all-prevailing, all-consuming
crime. When Henry Fielding, the immortal novelist, was appointed a
Middlesex magistrate towards the close of his somewhat tempestuous
career, he strove hard to check disorders, waging unceasing warfare
against evil-doers and introducing a well-planned system of prevention
and pursuit. Although in failing


(_From the Portrait by M. W. Peters, R.A._)]

health, he laboured incessantly. He often sat on the bench for sixteen
hours out of the twenty-four, returning to Bow Street after a long day's
work to resume it from seven p.m. till midnight. He did a great public
service in devising and executing a plan for the extirpation of robbers,
although the benefit was but temporary. This was in 1753, when the whole
town seemed at the mercy of the depredators. The Duke of Newcastle, at
that time Secretary of State, sent for Fielding, who unfolded a scheme
whereby, if £600 were placed at his disposal, he engaged to effect a
cure. After his first advance from the Treasury he was able to report
that "the whole gang of cut-throats was entirely dispersed, seven of
them were in actual custody, and the rest driven, some out of the town,
the rest out of the kingdom." He had nearly killed himself in the
effort. "Though my health was reduced to the last extremity ... I had
the satisfaction of finding ... that the hellish society was almost
entirely extirpated"; that, instead of "reading about murders and street
robberies in the newspapers every morning," they had altogether ceased.
His plan had not cost the Government more than £300, and "had actually
suppressed the evil for a time."

It was only for a brief space, however; and his brother, blind Sir John
Fielding, who succeeded him at Bow Street, frankly confessed that new
gangs had sprung up in place of those recently dispersed. But he bravely
set himself to combat the evil, and adopted his brother's methods. He
first grappled with the street robbers, and in less than three months
had brought nine of them to the gallows. Next he dealt with the
highwaymen infesting the road near London, "so that scarce one escaped."
The housebreakers, lead-stealers, shoplifters, and all the small fry of
pickpockets and petty larcenists were increasingly harried and in a
large measure suppressed. He organised a scheme for protecting the
suburbs, by which the residents subscribed to meet the expense of
transmitting immediate news to Bow Street by mounted messengers, with
full particulars of articles stolen, and the description of the robber;
the same messenger was to give information at the turnpikes and
public-houses _en route_, and thus a hue and cry could be raised and the
offender would probably soon be captured. At the same time a notice
would be inserted in the _Public Advertiser_ warning tavern-keepers,
stable-keepers, and pawnbrokers, the first against harbouring rogues,
the second against hiring out horses to the persons described, the third
against purchasing goods which were the proceeds of a robbery.

Sir John Fielding (he was knighted in 1760) was a most active and
energetic magistrate, and he was such a constant terror to evil-doers
that his life was often threatened. There were few crimes reported in
which he did not take a personal interest, promptly visiting the spot,
taking information, and setting his officers on the track. When Lord
Harrington's house was robbed of some three thousand pounds' worth of
jewellery, Sir John repaired thither


(_From a Drawing by Dodd._)]

at once, remaining in the house all day and the greater part of the
night. It was the same in cases of highway robbery, murder, or riot.
Everyone caught red-handed was taken before him, and his court was much
frequented by great people to hear the examination of persons charged
with serious crimes--such as Dr. Dodd, Hackman, who murdered Miss Reay,
the brother-forgers the Perreaus, and Sarah Meteyard, who killed her
parish apprentice by abominable cruelty. One well-known nobleman, "a
great patron of the arts," given also to visiting Newgate in disguise in
order to stare at the convicts under sentence of death, would constantly
take his seat on the bench.

Sir John Fielding's appearance in court and manner of conducting
business have been graphically described by the Rev. Dr. Somerville of
Jedburgh. He speaks in his diary of Sir John's "singular adroitness. He
had a bandage over his eyes, and held a little switch or rod in his
hand, waving it before him as he descended from the bench. The sagacity
he discovered in the questions he put to the witnesses, and the marked
and successful attention, as I conceived, not only to the words but to
the accents and tones of the speaker, supplied the advantage which is
usually rendered by the eye; and his arrangement of the questions,
leading to the detection of concealed facts, impressed me with the
highest respect for his singular ability as a police magistrate."

Sir John Fielding was undoubtedly the originator of the horse patrol,
which was found a most useful check on highway robbery. But it was not
permanently established by him, and we find him beseeching the Secretary
of State to continue it for a short time longer "as a temporary but
necessary step in order to complete that which was being so happily
begun." He was satisfied from "the amazing good effects produced by this
patrol that outrages would in future be put down by a little further
assistance of the kind." This patrol was reintroduced by the chief
magistrate of Bow Street about 1805, either Sir Richard Ford or Sir
Nathaniel Conant. It was a very efficient force, recruited entirely from
old cavalry soldiers, who were dressed in uniform, well armed, and well
mounted. They wore a blue coat with brass buttons, a scarlet waistcoat,
blue trousers and boots, and they carried sword and pistols. Their
duties were to patrol the neighbourhood of London in a circuit of from
five to ten miles out, beginning at five or seven p.m. and ending at
midnight. It was their custom to call aloud to all horsemen and
carriages they met, "Bow Street patrol!" They arrested all known
offenders whom they might find, and promptly followed up the
perpetrators of any robbery that came under their notice. Very marked
and satisfactory

IN 1786 (p. 238).

(_From the Painting by R. Smirke.)]_]

results were obtained by this excellent institution; it almost
completely ended highway robbery, and if any rare case occurred, the
guilty parties were soon apprehended.


Bow Street may be called the centre of our police establishment at that
time; it was served by various forces, and especially by eight officers,
the famous Bow Street runners of that period, the prototype of the
modern detective. They were familiarly known as the "robin redbreasts,"
from the scarlet waistcoat which was practically their badge of office,
although they also carried as a mark of authority a small bâton
surmounted by a gilt crown. The other police-offices of London were also
assisted by officers, but these were simply constables, and do not
appear to have been employed beyond their own districts. The Bow Street
runners, however, were at the disposal of the public if they could be
spared to undertake the pursuit of private crime. Three of them were
especially appropriated to the service of the Court. The attempt made by
Margaret Nicholson upon George III., and other outrages by mad people,
called for special police protection, and two or more of these officers
attended royalties wherever they went. They were generally MacManus,
Townsend, and Sayer, Townsend being the most celebrated of the three. He
has left a self-painted picture in contemporary records, and his
evidence, given before various police committees, shows him to have been
a garrulous, self-sufficient functionary. It was his custom to foist his
opinions freely on everyone, even on the king himself. He boasted that
George IV. imitated the cut of his hat, that the Dukes of Clarence and
of York presented him with wine from their cellars; he mixed himself up
with politics, and did not hesitate to advise the statesmen of the day
on such points as Catholic Emancipation and the Reformed Parliament. It
generally fell to his office to interrupt duels, and, according to his
own account, he stopped that between the Duke of York and Colonel
Lennox. His importance, according to his own idea, was shown in his
indignant refusal to apprehend a baker who had challenged a clerk; he
protested that "it would lessen him a good deal" after forty-six years'
service, during which period he had had the honour of taking earls,
marquises, and dukes.

No doubt these runners were often usefully employed in the pursuit of
criminals. Townsend himself when at a levée arrested the man who had
boldly cut off the Star of the Garter from a nobleman's breast. The
theft having been quickly discovered, word was passed to look out for
the thief. It reached Townsend, who shortly afterwards noticed a person
in Court dress who yet did not seem entitled to be there. Fearing to
make a mistake, he followed him a few yards, and then remembered his
face as that of an old thief. When taken into custody, the stolen star
was found in the man's pocket.

[Illustration: COLDBATH FIELDS PRISON IN 1814.

(_From a Drawing in the Crace Collection._)]

Vickery was another well-known runner, who did much good work in his
time. One of his best performances was that of saving the post-office
from a serious robbery. The officials would not believe in the existence
of the plot, but Vickery knew better, and produced the very keys that
were to pass the thieves through every door. He had learnt as a fact
that they had twice visited the premises, but still postponed the coup,
waiting until an especially large amount of plunder was collected.
Another case in which Vickery exhibited much acumen was the clever
robbery effected from Rundell and Bridges, the gold jewellers on Ludgate
Hill. Two Jews, having selected valuables to the amount of £35,000,
asked to be permitted to seal them up and leave them until they returned
with the money. In the act of packing they managed to substitute other
exactly similar parcels, and carried off the jewels in their pockets. As
they did not return, the cases were opened and the fraud discovered.
Vickery was called in, and soon traced the thieves to the Continent,
whither he followed them, accompanied by one of the firm, and tracked
them through France and Holland to Frankfort, where quite half of the
stolen property was recovered.

Vickery subsequently became jailer at Coldbath Fields Prison. One of the
prisoners committed to his custody was Fauntleroy the banker; and a
story has been handed down that this great forger all but escaped from
custody. A clever plot had been set on foot, but timely information
reached the authorities. On making a full search, a ladder of ropes and
other aids to breaking out of prison were laid bare. No blame seems to
have attached to Vickery in this, although some of his colleagues and
contemporaries were not always above suspicion. They were no doubt
subject to great temptations under the system of the time. It was the
custom to reward all who contributed to the conviction of offenders.
This blood-money, as it was called, was a sum of £40, distributed
amongst those who had secured the conviction. No doubt the practice
stimulated the police, but it was capable of great perversion; it gave
the prosecutor a keen interest in securing conviction, and was proved,
at times, to have led persons to seduce others into committing crime. It
is established beyond question that at the commencement of the
nineteenth century persons were brought up charged with offences to
which they had been tempted by the very officials who arrested them.

It must be admitted that the emoluments of the police officers were not
extraordinarily high; a guinea a week appears to have been the regular
pay, to which may be added the share of blood-money referred to above,
which, according to witnesses, seldom amounted to more than £20 or £30 a
year. Besides this, the officers had the privilege of selling Tyburn
tickets, as they were called, which were exemptions from serving as
constables or in other parish offices--an onerous duty from which people
were glad to buy exemption at the price of £12, £20, or even £25. Again,
a runner employed by other public departments or by private persons
might be, but was not always, handsomely rewarded if successful. He had,
of course, his out-of-pocket expenses and a guinea a day while actually
at work; but this might not last for more than a week or a fortnight,
and, according to old Townsend, people were apt to be mean in
recognising the services of the runners. These officers were also the
intermediaries at times between the thieves and their victims, and
constantly helped in the negotiations for restoring stolen property; it
could not be surprising that sometimes the money stuck to their fingers.
The loss incurred by bankers, not only through the interception of their
parcels, but by actual breakings into their banks, led to a practice
which was no less than compounding felony: the promise not to prosecute
on the restitution of a portion of the stolen property. It was shown
that the "Committee of Bankers," a society formed for mutual protection,
employed a solicitor, who kept up communication with the principal
"fences" and "family men." This useful functionary was well acquainted
with the thieves and their haunts, and when a banker's parcel--known in
cant language as a "child"--was stolen, the solicitor entered into
treaty with the thieves to buy back the money.

In this fashion a regular channel of communication came to be
established, offers were made on both sides, and terms were negotiated
which ended generally in substantial restitution. Many bankers objected
to the practice, and refused to sanction it. Still it prevailed, and
largely; and several specific cases were reported by the Select
Committee on the Police in 1828. Thus, two banks that had each been
robbed of notes to the amount of £4,000, recovered them on payment of
£1,000. In another case Spanish bonds, nominally worth £2,000, were
given back on payment of £1,000; in another, nearly £20,000 was restored
for £1,000; and where bills had been stolen that were not easily
negotiable, £6,000 out of £17,000 was offered for £300. Sometimes after
apprehension proceedings were stopped because a large amount of the
plunder had been given up. The system must have been pretty general,
since the committee stated that they knew of no less than sixteen banks
which had thus tried to indemnify themselves.

A strong suspicion was entertained that Sayer, a Bow Street runner
already mentioned, had feathered his nest finely with a portion of the
proceeds of the Paisley Bank robbery at Glasgow. He was an acquaintance
of the Mackoulls,[12] and it was he who proposed to the bank that
£20,000 should be restored on condition that all proceedings ceased.
When Sayer reached the bank with Mrs. Mackoull the notes produced
amounted to no more than £11,941. Whether Sayer had impounded any or not
was never positively known; but when he died, at an advanced age, he was
worth £30,000. And it has been said that shortly before his death he
pointed to the fireplace and a closet above it, using some incoherent
words. This was probably the receptacle of a number of notes, which were
afterwards found in the possession of one of his relatives, notes that
were recognised as part of the Paisley Bank plunder. He must either have
got them as hush-money or have wrongfully detained them, and then found
it too dangerous to pass them into circulation. Probably he desired to
have them destroyed, so that the story might not come out after his
death. The runners must have found it difficult to resist temptation.
The guilt of one of them--Vaughan--was clearly established in open
court, and he was convicted as an accessory in a burglary into which he
had led others; he was also proved to have given an unsuspicious sailor
several counterfeit coins to buy articles with at a chandler's shop.
When the sailor came out, Vaughan arrested him and charged him with
passing bad money. Vaughan absconded, but was afterwards discovered and
brought to trial.

Townsend tells of a case in his own glorification--and there is no
reason to deny him the credit--in which he arrested a notorious old
pickpocket, one Mrs. Usher, who had done a very profitable business for
many years. She was said to be worth at least £3,000 at the time of her
arrest, and when Townsend appeared against her he was asked in so many
words whether he would not withdraw from the prosecution. The Surrey
jailer, Ives by name, asked him, "Cannot this be 'stashed'?" Townsend
virtuously refused, and still would not yield, although Mrs. Usher's
relations offered him a bribe of £200. He also tells how he might have
got a considerable sum from Broughton, who had robbed the York mail, but
he steadfastly refused to abandon the prosecution. As much as a thousand
pounds had been offered to keep back a single witness.

These runners were often charged with being on much too intimate terms
with criminals. It was said that they frequented

[Illustration: SKETCH OF TOWNSEND of Bow Street.

(_Drawn by Richard Doyle._)]

low taverns and flash houses, and that thus thieves' haunts were
encouraged as a sort of preserve in which the police could, at any time,
lay hands on their game. The officers on their side declared that they
could do little or nothing without these houses--that, being so few in
number, it would be impossible for them to keep in touch with the great
mass of metropolitan criminality. Vickery spoke out boldly, and said
that the detection of offenders was greatly facilitated, for they knew
exactly where to look for the men they wanted. Townsend repudiated the
idea that the officer was contaminated by mixing with thieves. The flash
houses "can do the officer no harm if he does not make harm of it."
Unless he went there and acted foolishly or improperly, or got on too
familiar terms with the thieves, he was safe enough. But the houses were
undoubtedly an evil, and the excuse that they assisted in the
apprehension of offenders was no sufficient justification for them. To
this day, however, the free access to thieves' haunts is one of the most
valuable aids to detection, and the police-officer who does not follow
his prey into its own jungle will seldom make a large bag.

On the whole, it may be said that the old Bow Street runner was useful
in his generation, although he rarely effected very phenomenal arrests.
He was bold, fairly well informed, and reasonably faithful. Serjeant
Ballantine, who knew some of the latest survivors personally, had a high
opinion of them, and thought their methods generally superior to those
of the modern detective. We may not go quite that length--which, after
all, is mere assertion--but it seems certain, as I shall presently show,
that they were missed on the establishment of the "New Police," as the
existing magnificent force was long called. They mostly disappeared,
taking to other callings, or living out their declining years on
comparatively small pensions. George Ruthven, one of the last, died in
1844, and a contemporary record speaks of him as follows: "He was the
oldest and most celebrated of the few remaining Bow Street runners,
among whom death has lately made such ravages, and was considered as the
most efficient police officer that existed during his long career of
usefulness. He was for thirty years attached to the police force, having
entered it at the age of seventeen; but in 1839 he retired with a
pension of £220 from the British Government, and pensions likewise from
the Russian and Prussian Governments, for his services in discovering
forgeries to an immense extent connected with those


(_From a Contemporary Print._)]

countries. Since 1839 he has been landlord of the 'One Tun Tavern,'
Chandos Street, Covent Garden, and has visited most frequently the spot
of his former associations.... He was a most eccentric character, and
had written a history of his life, but would on no account allow it to
meet the public eye. During the last three months no less than three of
the old Bow Street officers--namely, Goodson, Salmon, and Ruthven--have
paid the debt of nature."

Among the captures to be credited to Ruthven is that of the Cato Street
conspirators, in 1820. These desperadoes, headed by Arthur Thistlewood,
had formed a plot to murder Lord Castlereagh and the rest of the
Ministers at a dinner at Lord Harrowby's town house in Grosvenor Square.
They were arming themselves for the purpose in a stable in Cato Street,
near the Edgware Road, when Ruthven and other runners burst in. A fight
ensued, in which Smithers, one of the officers, was killed. Several of
the conspirators were taken, but Thistlewood contrived to escape, only,
however, to be arrested next morning. He and four others were hanged,
while five more were transported for life.

Serjeant Ballantine, as I have said, paid the Bow Street runners the
high compliment of preferring their methods to those of our modern
detectives. They kept their own counsel strictly, he thought,
withholding all information, and being especially careful to give the
criminal who was "wanted" no notion of the line of pursuit, of how and
where a trap was to be laid for him, or with what it would be baited.
They never let the public know all they knew, and worked out their
detection silently and secretly. The old Serjeant was never friendly to
the "New Police," and his criticisms were probably coloured by this
dislike. That it may be often unwise to blazon forth each and every step
taken in the course of an inquiry is obvious enough, and there are times
when the utmost reticence is indispensable. The modern detective is
surely alive to this; the complaint is more often that he is too chary
of news than that he is too garrulous and outspoken.



     The "New Police" introduced by Peel--The System supported by the
     Duke of Wellington--Opposition from the Vestries--Brief Account of
     the Metropolitan Police, its Uses and Services--The River
     Police--The City Police--Extra-police Services--The Provincial

The necessity for a better police organisation in London much exercised
the public mind during the early decades of the nineteenth century. At
length, in 1830, Sir Robert Peel introduced a new scheme, the germ of
the present admirable forces. In doing so he briefly recapitulated the
shortcomings and defects of the system, or want of system, that then
prevailed; he pointed out how many glaring evils had survived the
repeated inquiries and consequent proposals for reform. Parliamentary
Committees had reported year after year from 1770 to 1828, all of them
unanimously of opinion that in the public interest, to combat the steady
increase of crime a better method of prevention and protection was
peremptorily demanded. Yet nothing had been done. The agitation had
always subsided as soon as the immediate alarm was forgotten. So this
opulent city, with its teeming population and abounding wealth, was
still mainly dependent upon the parochial watch: the safe-keeping of
both was entrusted to a handful of feeble old men, an obsolete body
without system or authority. That crime had increased by "leaps and
bounds" was shown by the figures. It was out of all proportion to the
growth of the people. In 1828 as compared with 1821 there had been an
increase of 41 per cent in committals, as against 15-1/2 per cent in
population, and the ratio was one criminal to every 822 of the
population. This was in London alone. In the provinces the increase was
as 26 per cent of crime against 11-1/2 per cent of population.

Unquestionably the cause of all this was the inefficiency of the
police. The necessary conditions, unity of action of the whole and
direct responsibility of the parts, could never be assured under such
arrangements. Each London parish worked independently, and while some
made a fairly good fight, others by their apathy were subjected to
continual depredation. The wealthy and populous district of Kensington,
for instance, some fifteen square miles in extent, depended for its
protection upon three constables and three headboroughs--none of the
latter very remarkable for steadiness and sobriety. It was fairly urged
that three drunken beadles could effect nothing against widespread
burglary and thieving. In the parish of Tottenham, equally unprotected,
there had been nineteen attempts at burglary in six weeks, and sixteen
had been entirely successful. In Spitalfields, at a time not long
antecedent to 1829, gangs of thieves stood at the street corners and
openly rifled all who dared to pass them. In some parishes, suburban and
of recent growth, there was no police whatever, no protection but the
voluntary exertions of individuals and the "honesty of the thieves."
Such were Fulham--with 15,000 inhabitants--Chiswick, Ealing, Acton,
Edgware, Barnet, Putney, and Wandsworth. In Deptford, with 20,000,
constantly reinforced by evil-doers driven out of Westminster through
stricter supervision, there was no watch at all. Then the number of
outrages perpetrated so increased that a subscription was raised to keep
two watchmen, who were yet paid barely enough to support existence, much
less ensure vigilance. Watchmen, indeed, were often chosen because they
were on the parish rates. The pay of many of them was no more than
twopence per hour.

[Illustration: Sir Robert Peel.

(_After the Painting by J. Wood._)]

The Duke of Wellington, who was the head of the Administration when Peel
brought forward his measure in 1829, supported it to the full, and
showed from his own experience how largely crime might be prevented by
better police regulations. He mentioned the well-known horse-patrol,[13]
which had done so much to clear the neighbourhood of London of
highwaymen and footpads. His recollection reached back into the early
years of the century, and he could speak from his own experience of a
time when scarcely a carriage could pass without being robbed, when
travellers had to do battle for their property with the robbers who
attacked them. Yet all this had been stopped summarily by the mounted
patrols which guarded all the approaches to London, and highway robbery
had ceased to exist. The same good results might be expected from the
general introduction of a better preventive system.

It is a curious fact that the Duke incurred much odium by the
establishment of this new police, which came into force about the time
that the struggle for Parliamentary reform had for the moment eclipsed
his popularity. The scheme of an improved police was denounced as a
determination to enslave, an insidious attempt to dragoon and tyrannise
over the people. Police spies armed with extraordinary authority were to
harass and dog the steps of peaceable citizens, to enter their houses,
making domiciliary visitations, exercising the right of search on any
small pretence or trumped-up story. There were idiots who actually
accused the Duke of a dark design to seize supreme power and usurp the
throne; it was with this base desire that he had raised this new
"standing army" of drilled and uniformed policemen, under Government,
and independent of local ratepayers' control. The appointment of a
military officer, Colonel Rowan, of the Irish Constabulary, betrayed the
intention of creating a "veritable gendarmerie." The popular aversion to
the whole scheme, fanned into flame by these silly protests, burst out
in abusive epithets applied to the new tyrants. Such names as "raw
lobsters" from their blue coats, "bobbies" from Sir Robert Peel, and
"peelers" with the same derivation, "crushers" from their heavy-footed
interference with the liberty of the subject, "coppers" because they
"copped" or captured his Majesty's lieges, survive to show how they were
regarded in those days.


Yet the admirable regulations framed by Sir Richard Mayne, who was soon
associated with Colonel Rowan, did much to reassure the public. They
first enunciated the judicious principle that has ever governed police
action in this country: the principle that prevention of crime was the
first object of the constable, not the punishment of offenders after the
fact. The protection of person and property and the maintenance of peace
and good order were the great aims of a police force. A firm but
pleasant and conciliatory demeanour was earnestly enjoined upon all
officers, and this has been in truth, with but few exceptions, the
watchword of the police from first to last. "Perfect command of temper,"
as laid down by Sir Richard Mayne, was an indispensable qualification;
the police officer should "never suffer himself to be moved in the
slightest degree by language or threats." He is to do his duty in a
"quiet and determined manner," counting on the support of bystanders if
he requires it, but being careful always to take no serious step without
sufficient force at his back. He was entrusted with certain powers,
though not of the arbitrary character alleged: he was entitled to arrest
persons charged with or suspected of offences: he might enter a house in
pursuit of an offender, to interfere in an affray, to search for stolen

[Illustration: POLICEMAN, OLD STYLE.

(_From a Drawing by Leech._)]

They went their way quietly and efficiently, these new policemen, and,
in spite of a few mistakes from over-zeal, soon conquered public esteem.
The opposition died hard; dislike was fostered by satirical verse and
the exaggerated exposure of small errors, and in 1833 the police came
into collision with a mob at Coldbath Fields, when there was a serious
and lamentable affray. But already the London vestries were won over.
They had been most hostile to the new system, "as opposed to the free
institutions of this country, which gave parish authorities the sole
control in keeping and securing the peace." They had denounced the new
police as importing espionage totally repugnant to the habits and
feelings of the British people, and subjecting them to "a disguised
military force." These protests formed part of a resolution arrived at
by a conference of parishes, which also insisted that those who paid the
cost should have the control. Yet a couple of years later these same
vestries agreed that "the unfavourable impression and jealousy formerly
existing against the new police is rapidly diminishing ... and that it
has fully answered the purpose for which it was formed...." This
conclusion was supported by some striking statistics. Crime appreciably
diminished. The annual losses inflicted on the public by larcenies,
burglaries, and highway robberies, which had been estimated at about a
million of money, fell to £20,000, and at the same time a larger number
of convictions was secured.

(p. 250).]

It is beyond the limits of this work to give a detailed account of the
growth and gradual perfecting of the Metropolitan Police


(_From an Engraving in "The Illustrated London News."_)]

into the splendid force that watches over the great city to-day. The
total strength now, according to the last official returns, is nearly
16,000 of all ranks, and it has about quintupled since its first
creation in 1829. The population of London at that date was just one
million and a half; the area controlled by the new police not half the
present size. Now not far short of 6,000,000 souls are included within
the area supervised by our present Metropolitan force, measuring 688
square miles of territory, or some thirty miles across from any point of
the circumference of a circle whose centre is at Charing Cross.
Throughout the whole of this vast region, which constitutes the greatest
human ant-heap the world has ever known, ever growing, too; the
blue-coated guardian of the peace is incessantly on patrol, the total
length of his beats reaching to about 850 miles. He is unceasingly
engaged in duties both various and comprehensive in behalf of his
fellow-citizens. By his active and intelligent watchfulness he checks
and prevents the commission of crime, and if his vigilance


[Illustration: A NIGHT CHARGE.]

is unhappily sometimes eluded it is not because he is not eager to
pursue and capture offenders. He is exposed to peculiar dangers in
protecting the public, but accepts them unhesitatingly, risking his life
gladly, and facing brutal and often murderous violence as bravely as any
soldier in the breach. In the Whitechapel division, where roughs abound,
a fifth of the police contingent in that quarter are injured annually on
duty; 9 per cent. of the whole force goes on the sick list during the
year from the result of savage assaults. A recent return of officers
injured shows a total of 3,112 cases, and these include 2,717 assaults
when making arrests, 89 injuries in stopping runaway, horses, 158 bites
from dogs, and many injuries sustained in disorderly crowds or when
assisting to extinguish fires. The regulation of street traffic is,
everybody knows, admirably performed by the police, and they ably
control all public carriages. The Lost Property Office is a police
institution that renders much efficient service, and in a recent year
over 38,000 articles which had been dropped, forgotten, or mislaid were
received, and in most cases returned to their owners. They made up a
very heterogeneous collection, and included all kinds of birds and live
stock--parrots, canaries, larks, rabbits, dogs, and cats; there were
books, bicycles, weapons, perambulators, mail carts, golf clubs, sewing
machines, and musical instruments. In minor matters the police constable
is a universal champion and knight errant. He escorts the softer sex
across the crowded thoroughfare as gallantly as any squire of dames; it
is a touching sight to watch the lost child walking trustfully hand in
hand with the six-foot giant to some haven of safety. If in the West End
the man in blue is sometimes on friendly terms with the cook, he is
always alert in the silent watches of the night, trying locks and giving
necessary warning; in poorer neighbourhoods he is the friend of the
family, the referee in disputes, the kindly alarum clock that rouses out
the early labourer. It may truly be said that London owes a deep debt of
gratitude to its police.


No account, however brief and meagre, of the Metropolitan force would be
complete which did not include some reference


_Photo: Cassell & Co., Ltd._]

to the river and dockyard police. I have already described on earlier
pages[14] the systematic depredations that went on amid the Thames
shipping in earlier days. This called imperatively for reform, and a
marine police was established to watch over our ships and cargoes and
guard the wharves and quays. Regular boat patrols were always on the
move about the river, and the police, who carried arms, had considerable
powers. This Thames branch was not immediately taken over by Peel's new
police, but it is now part and parcel of the Metropolitan force, and a
very perfect system obtains. The river police has its headquarters in
the well-known floating station at Waterloo Bridge, formerly a steamboat
pier, with a cutter at Erith, and it also has the services of several
small steam launches for rapid transit up and down the river. There is
very little crime upon the great waterway, thanks to the vigilance of
the Thames police, who also do good work in preventing suicides, while
they have many opportunities of calling attention to possible foul play
by their recovery of bodies floating on the stream.

What is true of the Metropolitan force applies equally to the City
Police. The City forms an _imperium in imperio_, one square mile of
absolutely independent territory interpolated in the very heart and
centre of London. The City Police was formed at the same time as the
Metropolitan, but the great municipality claimed the right to manage its
own police affairs, declining Government subsidies as resolutely as it
resisted Government control. The House of Commons in 1839 frankly
acknowledged that the City was justified in its pretensions, and that it
was certain to maintain a good and efficient police force. That
anticipation has been fully borne out, and the City Police is admitted
on all hands to be a first-class force, well organised and most
effective, filled with fine men who reach a high standard both of
intelligence and of physique. It has lighter duties by night, when the
City empties like a church after service, but during the day it has vast
cares and responsibilities, the duty of regulating the congested street
traffic in the narrow City thoroughfares being perhaps the most onerous.
Like their comrades beyond the boundary, the City police are largely
employed by private individuals; banks, exchanges, public offices, and
so forth, gladly put themselves under official protection. It should
have been mentioned, when dealing with the Metropolitan Police, that
some 1,800 officers of all ranks, from superintendents to private
constables, are regularly engaged in a variety of posts outside ordinary
police duty. Every great department of State is guarded by them; the
Sovereign's sacred person, the princes of the blood, the royal palaces,
all public buildings, museums and collections, many of the parks and
public gardens, the powder factories, are among the institutions
confided to their care. Going farther afield, it is interesting to note
that great tradesmen, great jewellers, great pickle-makers, great
drapers, great card-makers, the co-operative stores, great fruit-growing
estates, the public markets--all these share police services with
Coutts' and Drummond's Banks, Holland House, Roehampton House, and so
on. The whole of our dockyards are under police surveillance; so are the
Albert Hall, Brompton Cemetery, and many other institutions.

It is impossible to leave this subject without adverting to the
excellent provincial police now invariably established in the great
cities and wide country districts, who, especially as regards the
former, have an organisation and duties almost identical with those
already detailed. The police forces of Liverpool, Manchester,
Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the rest yield nothing in demeanour,
devotion, and daring to their colleagues of the Metropolis. In the
counties, where large areas often have to be covered, great
responsibility must be devolved upon officers of inferior rank, and it
is not abused. These sergeants or inspectors, with their half-dozen men,
are so many links in a long-drawn chain. Much depends upon them, their
energy and endurance. They, too, have to prevent crime by their constant
vigilance on the high roads, and by keeping close watch on all
suspicious persons. For the same reason special qualities are needed in
the county chief constable and his deputy; the task of superintending
their posts at wide distances apart, and controlling the movements of
tramps and bad characters through their district, calls for the exercise
of peculiar qualities, the power of command, of rapid transfer from
place to place, of keen insight into character, of promptitude and
decision--qualities that are most often found in military officers, who
are, in fact, generally preferred for these appointments.


MODERN POLICE (_continued_): PARIS.

     The Spy System under the Second Empire--The Manufacture of
     _Dossiers_--M. Andrieux receives his own on being appointed
     Prefect--The Clerical Police of Paris--The _Sergents de Ville_--The
     Six Central Brigades--The Cabmen of Paris, and how they are kept in
     Order--Stories of Honest and of Dishonest Cabmen--Detectives and
     Spies--Newspaper Attacks upon the Police--Their General Character.

Some account of the police arrangements in two or three other capitals,
and also in India, may now be given by way of contrast and comparison.
The police of Paris has already been dealt with in its early beginnings,
and under the First Empire. After the Bourbon Restoration, and during
the days of the revived monarchy, the least valuable feature of the
French police had the chief prominence. Every effort was made, by means
of the police, to check opposition to the reigning power, and suppress
political independence. But it was at this period that the detection of
crime was undertaken for the first time as a distinct branch of police
business, and it will be seen in a later chapter how Vidocq did great
things, although often by dishonest agents and unworthy means. In the
Second Empire the secret police over-rode everything; Napoleon III. had
been a conspirator in his time, and he had an army of private spies in
addition to the police of the Château, and these spies watched the
regular police at a cost of some fourteen millions of francs. At the
fall of the Second Empire there were half a dozen different secret
police services in Paris. There was the Emperor's, already mentioned;
the Empress had hers; M. Rouher, the Prime Minister, and M. Piétri, the
Prefect, each had a private force, so had other great officials. Most of
these agents were unknown to each other as such, and so extensive was
the system of espionage that one-half of Paris was at that time said to
be employed in watching the other half. This system produced the
_dossiers_, the small portfolios or covers, one of which appertained to
each individual, high or low,

[Illustration: A "GARDIEN DE LA PAIX."]

innocent or criminal, and was carefully preserved in the archives of the
Prefecture. There were thousands and thousands of these, carefully
catalogued and filed for easy reference, made up of confidential and
calumniating reports sent in by agents, sometimes serious charges, often
the merest and most mendacious tittle-tattle. The most harmless
individuals were often denounced as conspirators, and an agent, if he
knew nothing positive, drew liberally on his imagination for his facts.
Great numbers of these _dossiers_ were destroyed in the incendiary fires
of the Commune; some of its leaders were no doubt anxious that no such
records should remain. The criminal classes also rejoiced, but not for
long. One of the first acts of the authorities when order was
re-established was to reconstitute the criminal _dossiers_, a work of
immense toil, necessitating reference to all the archives of prisons and
tribunals. Within a couple of years some five million slips were got
together, and the documents filled eight thousand boxes. It is to be
feared that the secret police is still active in Paris, even under a
free Republic; secret funds are still produced to pay agents; among all
classes of society spies may be found even to-day; in drawing-rooms and
in the servants' hall, at one's elbow in the theatre, among journalists,
in the army, and in the best professions. That this is no exaggeration
may be gathered from the fact that the _dossiers_ are still in process
of manufacture. M. Andrieux, a former prefect, who has published his
Reminiscences, describes how on taking office the first visitor he
received was his chief clerk who, according to the regular custom, put
his _dossier_ into his hands. "It bore the number 14,207," M. Andrieux
tells us, "and I have it now in my library, bound, with all the gross
calumnies and truculent denunciations that form the basis of such

The regular police organisation, that which preserves order, checks
evil-doing, and "runs in" malefactors, falls naturally and broadly into
two grand divisions, the administrative and the active, the police "in
the office" and the police "out of doors." The first attends to the
clerical business, voluminous and incessant, for Frenchmen are the
slaves of a routine which goes round and round like clockwork. There is
an army of clerks in the numerous bureaus, hundreds of those patient
Government employees, the _ronds de cuir_, as they are contemptuously
called, because they sit for choice on round leather cushions, writing
and filling in forms

[Illustration: A "GARDE DE PARIS."]

for hours and hours, day after day. The active army of police out of
doors, which constitutes the second half of the whole machine, is
divided into two classes: that in uniform and that in plain clothes.
Every visitor to Paris is familiar with the rather theatrical-looking
policeman, in his short frock coat or cape, smart _képi_ cocked on one
side of his head, and with a sword by his side. This _agent_, _sergent
de ville_, _gardien de la paix_--he is known by all three titles--has
many excellent qualities, and is, no doubt, a very useful public
servant. He is almost invariably an old soldier, a sergeant who has left
the army with a first-class character, honesty and sobriety being
indispensable qualifications. Our own Metropolitan Police is not thus
recruited: the Scotland Yard authorities rather dislike men with
military antecedents, believing that army training, with its stiff and
unyielding discipline, does not develop that spirit of good-humoured
conciliation so noticeable in our police when dealing with the public.
Something of the same kind is seen in Paris; for it is said that it
takes two or three years to turn the well-disciplined old soldier into
the courteous and considerate _sergent de ville_. His instructions are,
however, precise; he is strictly cautioned to use every form of
persuasion before proceeding to extremities, he is told to warn but not
to threaten, very necessary regulations when dealing with such a highly
strung, excitable population as that of Paris. The same _sergents de
ville_ are stationed in the same quarter of the town, so that they
become more or less intimately acquainted with their neighbours and
charges. They are thus often enabled to deal with them in a friendly
way; a little scolding is found more effective than intimidation, and
strong measures may be avoided by tact and forbearance.

The uniformed police are not all employed in the streets and
_arrondissements_. There is a large reserve composed of the six central
brigades, as they are called, a very smart body of old soldiers, well
drilled, well dressed, and fully equipped: armed, moreover, with rifles,
with which they mount guard when employed as sentries at the doors or
entrance of the Prefecture. In Paris _argot_ the men of these six
central brigades are nicknamed "_vaisseaux_" (vessels), because they
carry on their collars the badge of the city of Paris--an ancient
ship--while the sergeants in the town districts wear only numbers: their
own individual number, and that of the quarter in which they serve.
These _vaisseaux_ claim to be the _élite_ of the force; they come in
daily contact with the Gardes de Paris, horse and foot, a fine corps of
city gendarmerie, and, as competing with them, take a particular pride
in themselves. Their comrades in the quarters resent this pretension,
and declare that when in contact with the people the _vaisseaux_ make
bad blood by their arrogance and want of tact. The principal business of
four at least of these central brigades is to be on call when required
to reinforce the out-of-doors police at special times. They are ready to
turn out and preserve order at fires, and will, no doubt, be the first
in the fray if Paris is ever again convulsed with revolutionary

Of the two remaining central brigades, one controls public carriages,
the other the Halles, that great central market by which Paris is
provided with a large part of its food. The cabmen of Paris are not
easily controlled, but they are probably a much rougher lot than the
London drivers, and they, no doubt, need a much tighter hand. Every
cab-stand is under the charge of its own policeman, who knows the men,
notes their arrival and departure, and marks their general behaviour.
Other police officers of the central brigades superintend the street
traffic, but not so successfully as do our police; indeed, parties of
the French police


POLICEMAN" (p. 262).]

have from time to time been sent to London for instruction in this
difficult branch of police business, but have hardly benefited by their
teaching. Parisian cabmen are forbidden to rove in search of fares, or
hang about in front of cafes and at street corners, the penalty being
imprisonment without the option of a fine. Indeed, a special quarter in
one of the Paris prisons is known as the "cabmen's," and is often full
of them. Yet the drivers are honest enough, and many curious stories are
told of the self-denial shown by these hard-worked, poorly paid servants
of the public. A rich Russian who had won ten thousand francs one night
at his club left the whole sum behind him in a cab in which he had
driven home. He was so certain that he had lost it irreparably that he
returned to St. Petersburg without even inquiring whether or not it had
been given up. Some time later he was again in Paris, and a friend
strongly urged him at least to satisfy himself whether or not the
missing money had been taken to the lost property office. He went and
asked, although the limit of time allowed to claim the lost property
was almost expired. "Ten thousand francs lost? Yes, there it is," and
after the proper identification the money was restored to him. "What a
fool that cabman must have been!" was the Russian's only remark. Again,
a certain jeweller in the Palais Royal left a diamond _parure_ worth
80,000 francs (£3,200) in a cab, and the police, when he reported the
loss, gave him scant hope of recovery. He did not know the number of the
cabman--he had picked him up in the street, not taken him from the rank;
and, worse than all, he had quarrelled with the driver, the reason why
he had abruptly left the cab. The case seemed quite hopeless, yet the
cabman brought back the diamonds of his own accord. The quaintest part
of the story is to come. When told at the Prefecture to ask the jeweller
for the substantial reward to which he was clearly entitled, he replied
with intense indignation: "No, not I; he was too rude. I hope I may
never see him or speak to him again."

All cabmen are not so honest, however; and now and again the fraudulent
cabman gets caught. It was so in the case of a tortoiseshell fan, which
was deposited under a wrong description and eventually, after the legal
interval, handed over to the cabman who had found it. Soon afterwards a
lady turned up to claim it, and as she described it exactly he was
ordered to restore it to the lady, whose name was communicated to him.
"But she has no right to it," protested the cabman. "She is a thief. I
know the real owner. I have known her from the first. It is Mdlle. ----,"
and he named a popular actress, thus confessing his own misconduct. The
actress was then summoned, and did in fact identify the fan as the one
she had lost. But it was proved satisfactorily that the other lady also
had lost a fan that was curiously similar.

The vicissitudes of treasure-trove might be greatly multiplied. The most
curious chances happen, the strangest articles are brought to the police
authorities. Everything found in the streets and highways, in omnibuses,
theatres, cabs, railway stations, is forwarded to the Prefecture. In one
case an immigrant who had made his fortune in Canada and carried it in
his pocket, in the shape of fifty notes of ten thousand francs each
(£20,000), dropped his purse as he climbed on to the outside of an
omnibus. The conductor picked it up and restored it; he was rewarded
with £500, and richly he deserved it for resisting so great a
temptation. Beds, brooches, boots, sheets even, are brought into the
Prefecture. A mummy was once among the _trouvailles_; there are
umbrellas without end. Hogier Grisons, a French writer, from whom many
of these incidents are taken, says that a friend of his declares that
whenever he finds himself without an umbrella he goes straight to the
Prefecture, describes some particular one, according to his fancy, with
such and such a handle, a certain colour, and so on, when he always has
the exact article handed over to him.

[Illustration: PARIS POLICE VANS.]

So much for the police in uniform. That in plain clothes, _en
bourgeois_, as the French call it, is not so numerous, but it fulfils a
higher, or at least a more confidential, mission. Its members are styled
inspectors, not agents, and their functions fall under four principal
heads. There is, first of all, the service of the _Sûreté_--in other
words, of public safety--the detective department, employed entirely in
the pursuit and capture of criminals, of which more anon; next comes the
police, now amalgamated with the _Sûreté_, that watches over the morals
of the capital in a fashion that would not be tolerated in this country,
and possesses arbitrary powers under the existing laws of France; then
there is the _brigade de garnis_, the police charged with the
supervision of all lodging-houses, from the commonest "_sleep_-sellers'
shop," as it is called, to the grandest hotels. Last of all there is the
brigade for inquiries, whose business it is to act as the eyes and ears
of the Prefecture--in plain English, as its spies.

There are many complaints in Paris that the police are short-handed,
especially in the streets. The average is sixteen to a quarter
inhabited by 30,000 to 40,000 people, so that the beats are long and the
patrol work severe, especially at night, though the numbers of the
_sergents de ville_ are then doubled. Some say that the streets of Paris
are more unsafe in the more remote districts than those of any capital
of Europe. The police are much abused, too, by the Radical and
Irreconcilable Press. It is not uncommon to read in the daily papers
such headlines as the following: "Crimes of the Police," "Police
Thieves," "Murder by a _Sergent de Ville_"--generally gross
exaggerations, of course. The truth, no doubt, is that the police of
Paris, taken as a whole, are a hard-working, devoted, and generally
estimable body of public servants.



MODERN POLICE (_continued_): NEW YORK.

     Greater New York--Despotic Position of the Mayor--Constitution of
     the Police force--Dr. Parkhurst's Indictment--The Lexow Commission
     and its Report--Police Abuses: Blackmail, Brutality, Collusion with
     Criminals, Electoral Corruption, the Sale of Appointments and
     Promotions--Excellence of the Detective Bureau--The Black Museum of
     New York--The Identification Department--Effective Control of

New York, by its latest charter of government, takes in the whole of the
outlying suburban districts, and has become the second city in the
world. It is known now as Greater New York, and its present municipal
constitution is curiously at variance with the democratic traditions of
a nominally free people. Supreme power, the absolute autocratic
authority, is vested in a single individual, elected, it is true, by the
popular voice, but, while he holds office, as despotic as any Czar. The
only check on the Mayor of Greater New York is that of public opinion,
expressed through a vigilant, often outrageously plain-speaking, Press,
but a Press at times influenced, even to the point of silence, by party
spirit. Holding his mandate on these terms, the head of the municipal
executive in New York can, as a matter of fact, do as he pleases. The
whole business of municipal administration is absolutely in his hands.
He is assisted by eighteen boards, each controlling a separate
department, but all of them except one, that of finance, composed of
members whom he personally appoints. The first Mayor elected on these
lines was Mr. Van Wyck, who, when he took up his office, was said to be
as much master of New York as Napoleon III. was of Paris and France when
he became President by virtue of the plebiscite.

All this would be beyond the scope of my subject were it not that the
government of New York, past and present, is intimately bound up with
its police. The Mayor, as the chief of executive power, is the head of
the force by which it ought to be protected, and peace and good order
maintained. Not long since, that police was attacked by many reputable
citizens and declared to be a disgrace to modern civilisation. The
situation had grown up under the shadow of Tammany Hall, that strange
product of modern democracy, an organisation, originally political,
which grew with steadily increasing, irresponsible power till it
overshadowed and overawed the city of New York, ruling it with barefaced
chicanery and imposing an outrageous despotism. In 1894 the power of
Tammany was temporarily overborne by an outburst of popular indignation.
But it was scotched, not killed. The almost irresponsible power wielded
by the Chief Magistrate under the latest charter is working again for
ill. There is no guarantee for its wise and temperate exercise; and a
new Commission, known as the Mazet Commission, presided over by Mr.
Moss, has conducted an inquiry which revealed that some of the old evils
were again in the ascendant.

Until 1896 the outside public was apt to regard the police of New York
as "the best and finest in the world." The eulogistic words are those of
its own champions, who claimed for it that "its services have been
great, the bravery of some of its members conspicuous in life-saving and
yet more in quelling riot and disturbance." It has always been a
tradition in America that the police may be trusted with considerable
powers; a free people, feeling that law in a new country must sternly
check license, has not unwillingly permitted its constituted guardians
to use the strong arm on occasion, and in a way that would not be
tolerated in slow-going, sober old England. To "loose off his revolver"
at the fugitive he cannot catch, or who has slipped through his fingers,
is no uncommon practice with the American policeman, what though he may
hit the innocent pigeon and miss the offending crow. I can call to mind
the summary finish of a prolonged strike of "street-car" employees which
I witnessed in one of my various visits to New York. A force of
policemen in plain clothes and armed to the teeth were sent "down town"
on a street-car with orders to fight their way through, which they did
"handsomely." In other words, they shot down all opposition. The number
of casualties was never publicly reported.

Let us consider first the constitution of the force. The whole body of
police is small compared with that of other large cities, and in
proportion to the mixed, turbulent public it controls--only one to 500
souls; it is governed by a Board of four Commissioners appointed by

[Illustration: "THEY SHOT DOWN ALL OPPOSITION" (p. 269).]

the Mayor for a term of six years. Particular duties are allocated to
the several members of the Board. Thus, the senior Commissioner and
president _ex officio_ is entrusted with the higher discipline of the
force; he deals with all charges of misconduct, and decides whether
offending constables shall or shall not be sent before the public
tribunals. Another Commissioner controls repairs and supplies, examining
and passing all bills for work done, after satisfying himself that it
has been completed. A third supervises the Pension Fund, and disposes of
applications for retirement, and also of applications from widows and
children of police officers for relief. The fourth Commissioner is the
Treasurer of police funds.

Immediately next to the Board stands a Superintendent of Police, who is
chief of the executive, the responsible head of the _personnel_, of the
rank and file of the force. He is the intermediary between the four
Inspectors, who come next in the hierarchy, and the supreme Board, the
channel communicating the Board's will and the agent to enforce its
execution. The Superintendent holds all the threads of general control,
and is responsible for and charged with the enforcement of the law
throughout the city. Three Inspectors supervise each a separate
district, being responsible for the preservation of the peace within its
limits and security to life and limb; the fourth is the head of the
detective branch. After the Inspectors rank the Captains of "precincts,"
of which there were thirty-four previous to the enlargement of the city,
each "precinct" being analogous to a French _arrondissement_ or a police
"division" in London. The Captain is an officer of great influence and
importance in his precinct, which he rules more or less despotically,
but nominally in the best interests of the public. He has a large force
of men at his disposal, and is expected to use it for the comfort and
protection of good citizens, as well as the pursuit and capture of
criminals. The rank and file of the force serving under the Captains are
classed as follows: first the Sergeants, from whom the Captains are
commonly selected; next the Roundsmen; then the Patrolmen, synonymous
with our ordinary blue-coated constables; last of all the Doormen, who
are out of uniform and employed at stations, lock-ups, and in offices,
performing many and various functions of administration.

In theory, to all outward seeming this organisation, so perfect, so
symmetrical, so accurately planned, might be supposed to justify the
encomiums passed upon it as the best and finest police force in the
world. Yet some of those for whose service it existed denounced it as an
intolerable tyranny, supported by corruption and wielding arbitrary
authority. Revolt was threatened, and it broke out ere long, only to be
crushed in its first efforts, but, unabashed by failure, to renew its
strenuous efforts. The moving spirit, the apostle of reform, was Dr.
Parkhurst, the incumbent of the Madison Square church, who, after ten
years of active ministration, began in 1890 to preach against Tammany
from his pulpit with a persistent courage that survived every attempt to
put him down. He took office next year as president of the Society for
the Prevention of Crime, and at once adopted as his watchword the cry of
"Down with the police." He denounced the whole administration of law and
justice as criminally corrupt; all officers, lawyers, judges depending
on Tammany worked hand in hand with crime. "It is simply one solid gang
of rascals, half of the gang in office, the other half out, and the two
halves steadily catering to each other across the official line."

[Illustration: _Photo: Sarony, New York._


For this bold language Dr. Parkhurst was summoned before the Grand Jury
of New York and solemnly reproved. He was not to be silenced; but,
anxious to formulate no fresh attack until he could speak to facts from
his own knowledge, he made a sad and weary pilgrimage through the worst
purlieus of the city, and obtained abundant proof that the law was
continually and flagrantly violated under the eyes of the police, and in
collusion and complicity with them. He returned to the charge,
inveighing with redoubled vigour against the police, telling how he had
"gone down into the disgusting depths of this Tammany-debauched town."
He was again summoned before the Grand Jury, but now he had his answer,
and so far from rebuking him afresh, the Grand Jury agreed with him as
to the corruption of the New York police.

Now the forlorn hope Dr. Parkhurst had led was followed by a strong
column of assault, and although Tammany fought hard to shield its
creatures, and Dr. Parkhurst was vilified, accused, even arrested and
prosecuted upon trumped-up charges, the city rose to back him. A
memorial was presented to the State Senate praying for a full public
inquiry into the state of the police department. Tammany still fought;
its nominee, Governor Flower, Governor of the State of New York, refused
to approve the inquiry, on the ground that it was needless. "No city in
the State has a lower tax rate than New York," he said; "no city has a
better police regulation; no city has a lower ratio of crime; ... a
better health department, better parks, better schools, better
credit.... No city is so comfortable a place to live in. That bad men
sometimes get into office there is true; that ideal municipal government
has not yet been attained there is true; but these things are equally
true of every city in the world, they are truer of other cities of our
State than they are of New York."

Despite all opposition, a Committee was appointed and soon commenced a
searching investigation. It was presided over by Senator Lexow, and is
still known as the Lexow Commission. How exhaustively it dealt with the
business may be seen from the fact that 678 witnesses were examined on
oath, that the evidence filled 10,576 pages of printed matter, and that
nine months elapsed before it could present its first provisional

[Illustration: _Photo copyrighted (1894) by G. Prince, New York._


Immense difficulties were experienced in obtaining evidence. The
influence of the police was paramount; and it was, no doubt, in
consequence of the reluctance of witnesses to speak against the police
that the Lexow Committee reported so strongly. It is necessary to bear
this in mind, since it may be that the police prejudiced their own case
at this point or at that by efforts to keep back the facts. The
Committee found that the witnesses they called before them were
subjected to outrage if they dared to state what they knew. "They were
abused, clubbed, and imprisoned, even convicted of crimes on false
testimony by policemen and their accomplices. Men of business were
harassed and annoyed in their affairs ... people of all degrees seemed
to feel that to antagonise the police was to call down upon themselves
the swift judgment and persecution of an invulnerable force.... The
uniform belief was that if they spoke against the police, had helped the
Committee, or had given information, their business would be ruined,
they would be hounded from the city, and their lives even jeopardised."
The Committee therefore came to the conclusion that the police formed a
separate and highly privileged class, armed with the authority and the
machinery for oppression and punishment, but practically free themselves
from the operation of the criminal law.

This indictment was based upon clear proof of the irregularities
practised by certain members of the New York police. They may be
summarised under four principal heads, with each of which I will deal in

(1) _Blackmail._--A tariff was fixed under which a tax was imposed upon
disorderly houses, drinking shops, gambling places, and so forth, and
was paid, no doubt cheerfully, for immunity from police interference.
This tax varied from twenty dollars (£4) to five hundred dollars (£100)
per month. The moneys were collected by detectives and other constables,
who received a commission upon the sums raised. These extortions were
not limited to the caterers for vice, mostly native American citizens.
The poor, ignorant, and friendless foreigner, who was seeking a new home
in the New World, was constantly and wantonly plundered. If he dared to
protest he was beaten and maltreated. A wretched Italian shoeblack, who
had cleaned an officer's boots for a month on credit, was half-killed
when he dared to ask for his money. A Russian Jewess who had opened a
small tobacco shop got into the black books of certain detectives by
refusing to supply them for nothing, was arrested on a false charge, and
heavily fined.

(2) _Brutality._--These charges cover a wide range. The Lexow Committee
stigmatised the police-stations as "slaughter-houses,"


where "prisoners, in custody of officers of the law and under the law's
protection, were brutally kicked and maltreated almost within view of
the judge presiding in the court." Numbers of witnesses testified to the
severe assaults made upon them at the station-houses. It was a word and
a blow with the policeman, often no previous word. A significant story
was told to the Committee by Mr. Costello, an Irishman attached to the
staff of the _New York Herald_. His work took him much to the police
headquarters, and he was apparently on good terms with most of the
officers. The experience he thus gained led him to produce a book called
"Our Police Protectors," which had a good sale, under the patronage of
the police, until one of the officers brought out a book, which drove
Costello's out of sale. Costello, accepting his disappointment, produced
another book about the Fire Department. Again he met with competition
from a man protected by the fire and police authorities. He endeavoured
to fight for his own hand, but soon got to loggerheads with the police.
He was arrested on a trumped-up charge, and when taken to the
station-house was knocked down by an officer--"brass-knuckled," for the
ruffian's fist was armed with brass knuckles. Then he was brutally
kicked as he lay half-stunned in the muddy gutter. Another still more
brutal case was that of a gentleman who interposed in a fight and was
attacked by a policeman who rushed into the _mêlée_. The officer,
striking out wildly with his club, caught the well-meaning gentleman on
the face and knocked his eye out. Another officer attacked a man who was
dissatisfied with the shell-fish he bought at an oyster stand, the
keeper of which had paid for police protection. The custodian of order
forthwith exerted his authority on the side of his friend and smashed in
the teeth of the discontented customer. Another witness appeared before
the Committee bleeding and disfigured, just as he had come out of police
hands. This man had been robbed of four dollars while asleep on a
doorstep, and his whole offence was in having appealed to the police for
assistance in recovering his money.

In all these and similar cases the victims could not hope for redress.
The police were above the law, and were not held responsible for
offences, not even for such felonious assaults as those described, which
would have entailed upon ordinary citizens a sentence of four or five
years' imprisonment. The policeman, even if charged and convicted, was
certain to be let off with a small fine. But, as a general rule, the
sufferers knew too well that it was useless to take proceedings. Mr.
Costello, already mentioned, was asked why he had not done so. In answer
he used the well-known saying, "It is no use going to law with the devil
when the court is in hell." The gentleman who lost his eye because he
was so weak as to interfere in a street fight preferred to pay a lawyer
to bribe his assailant not to appear against him, although the boot was
entirely on the other leg and the offender was the policeman. In the
case of the Italian shoeblack his mates raised money enough to pay a
lawyer, but could never get the case brought into court. In considering
these charges of brutality, however, it is but fair to bear in mind the
dangerous character of certain classes of the population with which the
New York police have to deal, and the readiness with which resort is had
to lethal weapons. To expect from them the patience and forbearance that
we look for from the English police would be obviously unreasonable.

(3) _Collusion with Crime and Criminals._--This was another grave
allegation proved against certain of the New York police. It was shown
that they were hand-in-glove in one nefarious practice at least--that
known as the "green goods trade," a species of confidence trick played
upon the unwary fool, and a very profitable game to the side which
invariably won. "Green goods" are forged or counterfeit banknotes,
passed off as genuine and sold for a song on one of two pretences to
those who would buy them. The first, that there had been over-issue of
paper currency by the Treasury, and the notes were, therefore at a
discount; the second, that the plates from which the notes were struck
had been stolen from the Government, hence they could be offered cheap.


The business, which seems to have been invented by one McNally, commonly
called "King McNally," was so ingenious that some account of it may be
given here. Seven principal actors were needed, and they were:

(i.) The "Backer," or capitalist, who was wanted to supply genuine notes
to a large amount, which had to be produced when the swindle was started
and the fish was on the hook.

(ii.) The "Writer," who sent out the circulars which constituted the

(iii.) The "Bunco Steerer," who was despatched, often to a considerable
distance, to get the nibbling victim in tow.

(iv.) The "Old Man," a personage of benign and most respectable aspect,
who had to sit in the room when the fraud was being carried out.

(v.) The "Turner," who did the bargaining and sold the bogus notes.

(vi.) The "Ringer," a sleight-of-hand artist who effected the exchange,
at a given moment, between the genuine notes displayed and the shams
palmed off on the fool.

(vii.) The "Tailer," a species of bully employed to get rid of any dupe
who, having discovered the swindle, returned to expose it.

A first step was to procure directories and lists of addresses, by which
means vast numbers of circulars were distributed through the country. It
was the business of No. 2, the "writer," a mere clerk, to send these
out, enclosing in each envelope forged cuttings from newspapers
(printed, of course) which set forth the extraordinary advantages
offered by those who had "green goods" for sale. At the same time a slip
was inserted giving an address to which anyone might telegraph so as to
secure the offer before it was too late. The address was always bogus,
some number in a street of a house that did not exist, or an entirely
vacant lot of ground. The telegrams were, however, delivered by the
telegraph companies to the swindlers in person, a service for which a
substantial fee was paid.

It was supposed that as many as 10,000 circulars a day were despatched.
One or two at most would meet with a response. Then the "bunco steerer"
went off forthwith to bring the victim in; to hand him over to the
rogues waiting to despoil him in some low tavern or opium shop where
they consorted together, with the direct permission of the police. The
"guy," or the "come-on," as the victim was styled in the swindlers'
argot, when he appeared was handled in various ways. The first step was
to make a price, and that was generally at the rate of 10,000 dollar
bills for 650 dollars paid down. Smaller sums were also negotiated, and
the process was not always quite the same. Either the good bills were
counted over and deposited in a box, which by some sleight-of-hand was
exchanged for another filled with waste paper, or the bills were
arranged in packages with a good note on top and bottom, the intervening
notes being bogus. This latter dodge was used with any suspicious
customer, a "hard" victim, as he was called. There was another plan
carried out with a private carriage; it was called the "carriage
racket," and the transfer was made by means of a couple of bags or
satchels. In one the genuine notes were deposited by a confederate, who
entered the carriage with the victim, and sat by his side. The worker of
the fraud, after filling the satchel, would kindly offer to accompany
the victim back to the station, and _en route_ the exchange was made
with another--bogus--bag.

In all cases the railway station played a principal part in the fraud;
it was essential that the victim should be a stranger who came from a
distance, and was returning home after the deal. He was cunningly
debarred from examining the box or the satchel, whichever was employed.
In the case of the box he was given a key which would not fit the lock;
and in the case of the satchel he was told to cut the leather through
when he got to his journey's end. The idea in both cases was that he
should not detect the fraud before leaving New York; that would, of
course, have been inevitable directly he opened the receptacle. As he
was doing a shady, fraudulent thing in buying the notes, he would
generally fall into the trap, realising the necessity for great caution
and secrecy.


Now and again a victim discovered the trick, and refused to leave the
city till he had exposed it. This case was met by the "tailer," who was
in waiting at the railway station disguised as a policeman. When he
came on the scene he met the complaint made with an immediate threat of
arrest, and the victim, knowing his intention had been dishonest, was
only too glad to get off. But sometimes the "guy" was swindled in a
different way. He paid his money, but got no notes. They were to be sent
to his address; when they failed to arrive he would come back to
inquire, and probably buy more, which were also to follow, but never
did. This trick was often carried out three or four times. At last the
parcel would be handed into the "express" or parcel office before his
eyes, but to a confederate, who, when the notes were missing, was
accused of having stolen them, and was not, of course, to be found.

Not only did certain members of the police connive at this nefarious
traffic, which flourished exceedingly, but they actually co-operated in
it. A police captain provided the "joint" or place of meeting where the
thieves beat the victim or swindled him. The proprietor was in the swim,
and received his commission, and if superior officials interfered, as
sometimes happened, the "joint" was transferred, then and there to a new
place. The "green goods" man always had timely notice when any police
raid was in contemplation; the police were also most useful in taking
charge of the "come-backs," the "guys" or victims who would not submit
to extortion, and it was often possible to take them in hand when they
applied at the detective bureau so as to nullify their proceedings, or
at worst give the hint to the swindlers to make themselves scarce. The
police were also kind enough to assist "King McNally" in the discipline
of his subjects. Whenever a "writer," who was the medium by which the
profits were shared after the first half had been monopolised by the
capitalist, was behindhand with his payments, the police were informed,
and the defaulter arrested. The profits of this nefarious business were
very high. It was said that McNally often took as much as £1,600 in a
single day. Some of the capitalists or "backers" made large fortunes,
£20,000, £30,000, even £40,000 apiece.

Another species of illegitimate revenue was that drawn from the gaming
houses, the policy shops and pool rooms which are apparently very
numerous in New York. This particular traffic appears to have originated
the slang epithet "pantata," which was the familiar title for the police
official who gave his


  1. Winter Helmet.
  2. Summer Hat.
  3. Revolver.
  4. Shield.
  5. Day Stick.
  6. Rosewood Baton for Parade.
  7. Belt and Frog.
  8. Night Stick.
  9. Handcuffs (new style).
  10. Nippers.

countenance to vice and crime. Its derivation is said to be Bohemian,
and the word was originally used in Austro-Hungary, where the
Emperor-King Francis Joseph was called the "Pantata of his people." The
exact meaning of the word is father-in-law, and the New York pantata was
thus esteemed the head of the criminal family. It was proved before the
Lexow Commission that there were at that time no less than six hundred
policy shops in active operation in the city working openly under police
protection, and that they paid a fixed tariff of fifteen dollars per
shop per month. The number of pool rooms was still larger, and they
remained unmolested in consideration of payments amounting to a total of
some three hundred dollars a month. The gaming that went on in the pool
rooms appears to have been much akin to the Continental lottery system,
and any sum could be staked, from one cent upwards. Another form of
revenue raised by dishonest members of the police force was in levying
commission upon the owners of property who had been robbed of valuables
and were willing to pay to have them restored. The practice which
obtained in this country during the earlier part of the present century
is still in force in New York; it is possible to come upon the track of
stolen property, and pawnbrokers or "fences" are prepared to hand it
over on repayment of the advances made on it. But in carrying out the
arrangements the police, of course, took toll, and were paid either
commission or substantial gratuities by the owners they obliged.

4. Yet another indictment brought against the New York police was that
of _active interference with the purity of election_. It was alleged to
be the agent of a political party, its duty being to secure the return
of the proper candidates, those of Tammany Hall. In carrying this out
members of the force sometimes arrested and ill-treated the opposition
voters; they canvassed for their own side, and, neglecting their proper
functions as guardians of the peace, they became the agents of Tammany
Hall. The ballot boxes were tampered with, and such frauds as
personation and the repeated appearance of the same voter were winked


It was little likely that a force recruited and administered as regards
promotion on corrupt lines would act otherwise than as has been set
forth. In early days first appointments were not to be purchased for
money, but the practice soon became general, and no one could be
appointed a constable unless he paid for it, or had political friends.
One Commissioner admitted that from 85 to 90 per cent. of all the
appointments he made were at the instance of Tammany Hall. Yet there was
at this time a Civil Service rule that all officers were to be appointed
by open competition. It came to be a custom at last that every candidate
should produce 300 dollars to a go-between, who passed it on to the
police authorities; after this payment the examinations were made easy.
The same rule as to payment was enforced for promotion. It cost 1,600
dollars to become a sergeant, and for a captaincy 15,000 dollars were
paid. One witness, who was a police sergeant, told a remarkable story of
his examination for one of these latter appointments. He had passed the
prescribed examination three times in succession, and yet was no nearer
nomination. His friends told him that this was simply waste of time, but
he persisted for four years, trusting that his merits would be
recognised, still steadfastly declining to bribe his superiors. Finally
he consented, and was told that his promotion could be had for 12,000
dols. This money was subscribed by his friends, but then the price was
raised to 15,000 dollars. Again it was subscribed, but became a bone of
contention amongst the officials. At one time it looked as though even
bribery would fail to secure the promotion, but they appeared at last to
have divided the plunder to their mutual satisfaction, and the witness
now became a captain.

[Illustration: INSPECTOR BYRNES.]

It is only fair to the police of New York to credit them with
considerable success in dealing with crime. Whatever suspicion may have
rested on their good faith where offenders have been able to purchase
their connivance, there is no doubt that a large number of crimes have
always been detected and avenged in New York. They have to deal with
cosmopolitan rogues drawn to the happy hunting ground of the New World,
and with a large mass of indigenous crime of the most serious kind. The
unlawful taking of life is very prevalent in the United States, where
the percentage of murders is larger than anywhere in the world, but
these crimes do not go largely unpunished. Again, the American "crook,"
the bank robber, the burglar, the counterfeit-money maker, and the
wholesale forger are to be met with in large numbers across the
Atlantic, and the warfare against them is unceasing. It is true that the
detective forces of the country are very much in private hands: agencies
like Pinkerton's have a fine record; the triumphs achieved by the
breaking up of some of the Secret Societies in the south, such as the
Molly McGuire and the Kluklux clans, are feats deserving the warmest
recognition. At the same time, the detective bureau, composed of
officers of Mulberry Street, has done excellent service, and Inspector
Byrnes, its chief, has earned a high reputation in thief-taking.

The Detective Bureau of New York "has attained national importance,"
says a writer who knows it and its services well. He instances
especially the protection given to the great business centre of Wall
Street at the time when the "down town" district was specially favoured
of thieves and depredators. Robbery from the person, burglarious
entrance to banking and other premises, the abstraction of money, bonds,
and valuable papers used to be of constant occurrence. More recently the
presence of a "crook" below a line drawn, say, through Fulton Street was
_primâ facie_ evidence against him, and he was then and there arrested,
and called upon to give account of himself. Unless he could show good
cause for venturing within the peculiar precincts of finance and
commerce he was relegated to gaol. The detectives are always "on the
spot," ever keen and active in coping with the evil-doer. A dozen are
always on duty at the Stock Exchange, where it is boasted that not a ten
cent stamp has been stolen by a professional thief for years.

The ways of the New York detective are like those of the famous Ah Sing,
"childlike and bland," but no less astute and successful. They aim at
prevention, and trust to it even more than to the pursuit subsequent to
the commission of crime. It is an axiom with them to know their game by
heart; they study the thoughts and idiosyncrasies, the plans and
proceedings, of the criminal classes so closely that they can predicate
what will be done under any particular circumstances, how the thief will
act when planning, when executing, and, above all, when covering up his
tracks after he has made his _coup_. One method followed with marked
success is to keep their spies and assistants in the heart of the
enemy's camp. It is well known that criminals have little or no fidelity
to each other, that "honour among thieves" is a mendacious adage
provided any of them can see substantial profit in betraying his
associates. The best officers make a point of keeping in touch with the
"crooks," visiting them frequently in their favourite resorts, and
hearing all the movements and the news. Matters in progress, the
activity or otherwise of well-known practitioners, are thus ascertained,
for the high-flyer in crime generally knows what others of his class are
about, and is willing to pass it on for a consideration, or to stand
well with the police.

New York possesses its Black Museum, its treasure-house of criminal
relics akin to that which may be viewed at the headquarters


of our Metropolitan Police at New Scotland Yard. A brief summary of the
exhibits in this strange depository is, in its way, an epitome of
contemporary crime. Every item, even the most insignificant, tells of
some flagitious act. The sledge hammers, drills, jemmies, masks, and
powder flasks tell their own story, so do the marvellously ingenious
burglar's implements manufactured by high-class mechanical skill, and
hired out to executive agents on a percentage of results. Here are the
bogus gold bricks of some famous confidence trick, the well-named _vol à
l'Americain_, lithographic stones from which thousands and thousands of
counterfeit notes have been struck off, the curious devices used for
opening combination locks, the rope ladders, lanterns, revolvers that
have figured in various notable operations.


Another branch well worked by the New York police is its identification
department, which is now fully served by the Bertillon method of
measurement, and it has always been rich in photographic portraiture.
The famous "Rogues' Gallery," which forms the basis of Mr. Inspector
Byrnes' book on American criminals, is a marvellous record of rascality.
Each picture is backed with a brief history of ancestry and antecedents,
so that the influences at work, whether congenital or accidental, evil
traits transmitted from parents, or the growth of bad example acting on
weak moral fibre, may be seen at once. As has been said, the United
States offers many attractions to wrong-doers, and in this police
gallery will be found the portraits of such great criminal practitioners
as "Hungry Joe," the ex-Governor of South Carolina; Franklin J. Moses,
"Big Bertha," Annie Riley, an accomplished linguist; Max Shinburn, and
the rest.

It is a part of the case against the New York police that it fails to
control crime effectively, but it can nevertheless show results at least
as good under this head as those achieved in European countries. In some
respects indeed its operations are marked by a cleverness and smartness
which it would be hard to match in the best of the police forces of the
Old World.



MODERN POLICE (_continued_): RUSSIA.

     Mr. Sala's Indictment of the Russian Police--Their Wide-reaching
     Functions--Instances of Police Stupidity--Why Sala Avoided the
     Police--Von H---- and his Spoons--Herr Jerrmann's
     Experiences--Perovsky, the Reforming Minister of the Interior--The
     Regular Police--A Rural Policeman's Visit to a Peasant's House--The
     State Police--The Third Section--Attacks upon Generals Mezentzoff
     and Drenteln--The "Paris Box of Bills"--Sympathisers with Nihilism:
     an Invaluable Ally--Leroy Beaulieu on the Police of Russia--Its
     Ignorance and Inadequate Pay--The Case of Vera Zassoulich--The
     Passport System--How it is Evaded and Abused--Its Oppressiveness.

Forty years ago a well-known writer summed up the Russian police in the
following scathing words: "As grand-masters of the art and mystery of
villainy, as proficients in lying, stealing, cruelty, rapacity, and
impudence, I will back the Russian police against the whole world of

This tremendous indictment seems to be fully justified by past
experience, and it is to be feared that many of the worst charges can be
still maintained. Recent writers tell new stories that fall little short
of the old. Russia is still absolutely given over to the police. It is
the most police-ridden country in the world; not even in France in the
worst days of the Monarchy were the people so much in the hands of the
police. From first to last the Russian citizen is deemed incapable of
looking after himself. Not only is he forbidden to take an active part
in the management of public affairs, but in the most private matters he
must submit to the interference of the police. "The Russian police has a
finger in every pie," wrote the acute observer quoted above.[15] "They
meddle not only with criminals, not only with passports, but with
hotels, boarding and lodging houses, theatres, balls, _soirees_, shops,
boats, births, deaths, and marriages. The police take a Russian from his
cradle and never lose sight of him till he is snugly deposited in a
parti-coloured coffin in the great cemetery of Wassily Ostrow. Surely to
be an orphan must be a less terrible bereavement in Russia than in any
other country; for the police are father and mother to everybody--uncles,
aunts, and cousins too."



Nothing can be done in Russia without police permission. A person cannot
build a bathroom in his house without leave. A physician cannot practise
without it; he must have leave even to refuse to attend to night calls;
he cannot prescribe anæsthetics, narcotics, or poisons without special
permission; and no chemist would make up a prescription containing any
of these drugs unless the doctor's name were on his special list. No new
journal can be established without permission, no printing office, no
bookshop, no photograph gallery; special police leave is needed to sell
newspapers in the streets; a reader at one of the public libraries who
wishes to consult standard works on social subjects must be armed with a
permit; no concert for charitable purposes can be organised without
leave from the police, and the proceeds must be handed over to them to
be passed on to the recipients or embezzled on the way. All freedom of
movement within the empire is checked by the police. A native Russian
must have leave if he wishes to go fifteen miles from home. A foreign
traveller is forbidden to enter the country without leave, he must have
leave if he wishes to remain more than six months, and must ask for
leave to go away again; every change of residence must be notified to
the police. The passport system, although at times unevenly and
unequally administered, is a potent weapon in the hands of the police,
by means of which they can control the movements of everyone within the

To give some idea of the wide-reaching functions of the police, the
power assumed in matters momentous and quite insignificant, we may quote
from the list of circulars issued by the Minister of the Interior to the
Governors of the various provinces during four recent years. The
Governors were directed to regulate religious instruction in secular
schools, to prevent horse-stealing, to control subscriptions collected
for the Holy Places in Palestine, to regulate the advertisements of
medicines and the printing on cigarette papers, to examine the quality
of quinine sold, and overlook the cosmetics and other toilet
articles--such as soap, starch, brilliantine, tooth-brushes, and insect
powder--provided by chemists. They were to issue regulations for the
proper construction of houses and villages, to exercise an active
censorship over published price-lists and printed notes of invitation
and visiting-cards, as well as seals and rubber stamps. All private
meetings and public gatherings, with the expressions of opinion and the
class of subjects discussed, were to be controlled by the police. In a
word, quoting one high authority,[16] the Russian police collect
statistics, enforce sanitary regulations, make searches and seizures in
private houses, keep thousands of "suspects" constantly under
surveillance, reading all their correspondence, and, of course,
violating the sanctity of the post office. They take charge of the
bodies of persons found dead; they admonish those who neglect their
religious duties and fail to partake of the Holy Communion; they enforce
obedience to thousands of diverse orders and regulations supposed to
promote the welfare of the people and guarantee the safety of the State.
There are 5,000 sections relating to police in a Russian code of laws,
and it is hardly an exaggeration to say, as Mr. Kennan puts it, that in
the peasant villages, away from the centres of education and
enlightenment, the police are the omnipresent and omnipotent regulators
of all human conduct--a sort of incompetent bureaucratic substitute for
Divine Providence.


_Photo: Daziaro, Petersburg._]

Before, however, dealing further with the Russian police of to-day, it
will be interesting, for purposes of comparison, to look back for a
moment into some of the less recent stories of police proceedings.
Travellers who visited the country fifty years ago or more give it as
their deliberate opinion that the Russian police was "more stupid, more
dishonest and corrupt than can well be conceived." Even in those days
they had enormous powers; everything was submitted to their
superintendence, and they carried out their orders just as seemed good
to them. Their too literal interpretation of the letter of the law was
often productive of the most serious consequences. Thus it was a strict
rule that no one might pass the Neva when the breaking up of the ice had
set in, and police were stationed on the banks to insist upon its
observance. But the rule was also made to apply to any unfortunate
persons who were already on the ice when the thaw began; no one was
allowed to cross, and therefore no one could be allowed to land. The
humane intention of saving life was thus set at naught by the intense
stupidity of subordinates, and many accidents happened.

A worse case occurred at the burning of the Lehmann Theatre, about 1840,
during the Carnival, a period of great festivity known as Maslinizza. At
the time in question the most popular of the many entertainments was
that of a German pantomime company, which performed in a temporary
theatre erected upon the Admiralty Square, St. Petersburg. This
pantomime was the rage, and the theatre was constantly crammed. At one
morning performance the alarm of fire was raised, almost instantly
flames burst out from behind the scenes, and the whole edifice, of wood,
was in a blaze. The audience, wild with terror, rushed to the doors, and
found exit altogether forbidden. These doors opened inwards, and the
pressure of the frantic crowd closed them as effectually as if they had
been barred. A workman, who was on the far side, and who had assisted in
the erection of the theatre, called for an axe, saying that he knew what
was wrong, and that a way must be cut open for the crowd. But there was
a policeman on duty, and he refused to allow any steps to be taken
without superior authority. When, at last, his fatal obstinacy was
overcome, and admission was gained, it was found to be too late. The
whole of the densely packed audience, men, women, and children, were
dead; they had been stifled by the smoke that filled the building, and
not a single soul was saved.

The extortions of the Russian police have been at all times unblushing.
Their rapacity knows no bounds, and it appears to be exhibited by every
rank, from the highest to the lowest. George Augustus Sala, in his
"Journey Due North," admirably summed up the situation in his day. He
had been struck by the appearance of a man in uniform, seated in an
admirably appointed droschky behind a priceless stepper, driven by a
resplendent coachman, and he thought that he was gazing upon the Czar
himself. The master was not, perhaps, of prepossessing appearance; he
was stout and flabby, with pale, trembling cheeks, and close-cropped,
shiny black hair, but he was in a smart uniform, with a double-eagled
helmet, buckskin gloves, and patent-leather boots. "Who is it?" Sala
asked of a Russian friend. "Field-Marshal? Prince Gortschakoff? General


Todleben?" "No, he is a Major of Police." "Has he enormous pay or a
private fortune?" "That dog's son," replied the Russian, "has not a
penny of his own, and his full pay all told is a sum of £40 a year."
"But the private carriage, the horse, the silver-mounted harness, the
luxury of the whole turn-out?" "_Il prend_; he takes." And later on Sala
proceeds to tell us how the "taking" is done. The Major in his handsome
office sits at the receipt of custom; everybody must bribe him--all
those who seek for licenses, for privileges. As we have seen, police
permission is needed for everything under the sun, and all who come
seeking it must pay. They bribe the Major, his employees, even the
private policeman at the doors. "It is a continual and refreshing rain,"
says Sala, "of grey fifty-rouble notes to the Major, of blue and green
fives and threes to the employees, of fifty-copeck pieces to the
grey-coats." And then the writer goes on to give specific instances of
robbery on a large scale, telling us how this police body, "organised to
protect the interests of citizens and watch over public order and
morals, to pursue and detect and take charge of criminals ... simply
harasses, frightens, cheats, and plunders honest folk."

During the course of a one month's residence in St. Petersburg Sala was
robbed four times; first of a cigar-case, then of a purse, fortunately
not very well lined, next of an overcoat, and lastly of a drawerful of
nondescript articles, including shirts, cigars, and a pair of
opera-glasses. This last robbery had been effected by breaking through a
seemingly secure lock, and the victim suspected a certain chambermaid
who attended to his room. He was on the point of laying the whole case
before the police when a friend, a Frenchman who knew Russia by heart,
interposed and strongly advised Sala to accept his loss; he would
certainly recover nothing, and would as certainly be obliged to spend
more than double the value of the property stolen, with the additional
inconvenience of being nearly worried to death. The gist of this shrewd
advice was that he should grin and bear it, buy new articles, but never
complain. "Complaints will lead to your being replundered fourfold,
hardly to the recovery of your possessions."

This was no new experience. An earlier traveller, Herr Jerrmann, gives a
curious instance of the extraordinary faculty the Russian police
exhibited of retaining what came into their hands. It was always
considered, he said, that the person robbed had never less chance of
recovering his property than when the police had actually got the thief.
The general feeling, in fact, was strong that thefts would be seldom if
ever reported were it not that the law imperatively requires it to be

A certain nobleman, Von H----, lost some plate, silver spoons, knives
and forks, which were abstracted from his plate-chest. A few weeks later
one of his servants came and told him that he had seen the stolen
property exhibited for sale in a pawnbroker's shop. Von H---- went and
identified his plate, then, calling the police in, required the
silversmith to produce the goods. There could be no doubt as to
ownership, for Von H----'s arms and initials had not been erased. The
silversmith willingly admitted Von H----'s claim, and would have
surrendered the property to him at once. But the police interposed, and
declined to allow him to take away his property until he had formally
proved his ownership. For this it was necessary to draw up a formal
statement of the case, and submit it to the lieutenant of police,
accompanied by a specimen article from his plate-chest in corroboration
of his claim. While this was being done the police took charge of the
pieces that had been stolen, and soon acquired more. Von H---- was
apparently a novice then, for, in order to recover the few articles he
had lost, he submitted the whole contents of his plate-chest for police
inspection at the police bureau. From that time he never saw a single
article again!


Jerrmann tells another story within his own experience. A silver
table-spoon was stolen from his kitchen; his suspicions fell upon the
baker who brought him bread, and the same day the thief was captured,
and the spoon traced to a receiver's shop. Justice was prompt in its
action; the thief was duly punished, the receiver's shop was closed. But
the police took possession of the spoon! Herr Jerrmann valued the spoon,
which was a christening gift, and he was determined to spare no pains to
recover it. He was, however, referred from one person to another, hunted
from place to place in the most vexatious way, and all without result.
At last a commissary who was the custodian of the spoon asked him
frankly why he was so persevering; the value of the spoon was trifling,
and he must have spent more money in droschkies than the thing was
worth, while he might confidently expect to be much more out of pocket
still before he got back his property. Jerrmann, seeing how the land
lay, suddenly decided upon a daring ruse. He told the commissary that he
meant to have the spoon the very next day, and when he was asked
mockingly what he proposed to do, he answered simply that he was going
to dine that evening with Perovsky, the Minister of the Interior. "And I
mean," added Jerrmann, "to ask him a riddle, namely, how to recover
one's property when it is temporarily held by the police. If you will
come to breakfast with me to-morrow morning I promise you that you shall
make use of that very spoon. But whether you wear uniform or not will
entirely depend upon how Perovsky deals with my riddle." The commissary
again laughed, but a little uneasily. He accepted the invitation to
breakfast, and when he came the spoon was on the table; he had sent it
in anticipation. The best part of this story is that the dinner with
Perovsky was purely imaginary. But that famous Minister's name was ever
a terror to faithless officials.

This Perovsky, a man of singular ability and of the most straightforward
character, had been appointed head of the police by the Czar Nicholas I.
when that sovereign was roused to the consciousness that his police was
a shame and a scandal to the empire. Perovsky did something, no doubt,
towards reforming the most crying abuses, but he met with the most
determined opposition from the great army of police officials, who
bitterly resented his interference. Many stories are told of his methods
of calling his subordinates to account. There was one occasion when he
drew the attention of the chief of police to a certain mansion where
gambling at prohibited games of chance was constantly carried on. He
desired the police to surround the house and to depute two of their
number to enter it. The officers were to make their way to a room
indicated, and if they there found a party of gamesters at a faro table
arrests should be made. All fell out as planned; the gamblers were
caught _in flagrante_ with piles of gold upon the table, sufficient
proof of what was going on. But just as the players were about to be
removed to the police


(_From a Photograph._)]

station one of them took the police officers aside and assured them that
it was all a mistake, that they were not playing for the gold upon the
table, which merely served as markers. Still, if the police officers
cared to try their skill at _écarté_ for a thousand roubles a game, some
of those present would be glad to give them a chance of winning the
money. This was only another excuse for making it a present to the
officers of the law, who presently withdrew with their pockets well
lined to inform their chief that there was nothing wrong in the house
they had visited. This report was carried in due course to Perovsky, who
summoned the two police agents before him, and, assuring them that he
was not their dupe, opened another door and disclosed to view the very
same gamblers of the night before sitting at a green table in the same
order, playing the same, prohibited game. The whole affair was an
artfully executed plot to entrap the police.

The police, it has been contended, is an indispensable wheel in the
organisation of absolute monarchy. That power pretends to be paternal as
well as repressive, and as long as it forbids the people to share in
government, or express opinions on current events, it must be aided by
some organ that replaces the public voice, speaking either in elective
assemblies or in the Press. The police, acting for the central power, is
supposed to control everything, to criticise conduct, to protect as well
as correct, and it thus becomes possessed of very considerable power. In
Russia, under Nicholas I., the police was well styled the mainspring of
the State machinery; and although under Alexander II. more liberal
principles obtained, the growth of Nihilism led to reaction, and the
police recovered all its old authority. Great pains have been taken to
perfect its processes, to give it increased strength and enlarge its
action. With this in view an organisation was planned which lasted for
some years, and which consisted mainly in the separation of all police
into two principal and distinct branches--

1. The ordinary, everyday, regular police.

2. The political, or State, and for the most part secret police.

Let us consider these in turn.

1. The regular police is on the whole organised as in many other
European countries, with the difference that the police officer often
predominates in Russia over other local functionaries. For purposes of
illustration it may be noted that where in France a _sous-prèfet_ would
act under the prefect of a department, the official in Russia next to
the Governor is the _ispravnik_, with whom lesser members of the police
hierarchy are in direct relations.

A great army of unofficial and unpaid _attachés_ assists the regular
police of the towns. This force was obtained through the clever device
of enlisting the services of every house porter, the Russian _dvornik_,
who answers to the French _concierge_ and the German _Hausknecht_, and
discharges much the same functions in an emphasised and more arbitrary
fashion. The _dvornik_ is bound to see and examine the papers and
passports of all inmates of the house he serves, and especially of all
visitors and new arrivals. The police regulation requires every
_dvornik_ to carry the passport to the police station within three days
of the arrival of a new person, and to lodge it there in exchange for a
ticket of residence. The same process is followed on departure. Thus the
_dvornik_ becomes a sort of permanent detective; he has not only to
watch over all in the house, but he is held responsible that no
revolutionary proclamations are posted on the external walls, no
dangerous articles thrown out of the windows, and he is expected to lend
a hand to the police if they make an arrest or give chase to a fugitive.
Although he gets no pay from Government, he is expected to give much
service under irksome conditions. He is forbidden to leave his post at
any time during the long night watch, sixteen hours, from 4 p.m. to 8
a.m. next day, and he is liable to severe punishment if he fail in these
duties. For all this the house proprietor really pays, and he may be
still further mulcted, for he is held responsible for all illicit acts
committed in his house, which may be sequestrated on proof of secret
meetings held within it, or on any discovery of weapons, ammunition,
explosives, or forbidden literature.

The police in the provinces is represented by a force of 5,000 or more,
who were first appointed in 1878, were armed, mounted, given good pay
and many rights. Each officer had his own beat, in which he ruled
supreme, and he was thought quite a delightful institution. But within a
year or two the police had developed into abominable petty tyrants, who
held the country folk at their mercy, a prey to their exactions and
brutality. They became, in fact, a perfect scourge in their districts,
and even governors and high officials denounced them as brigands. It
became clear that a bad police was worse than no police at all. Thus, an
institution intended to help and protect the people soon degenerated
into a new and terrible instrument of vexation and oppression. No name
was too bad for the rural policeman, the _uriadniki_, who were nicknamed
the _kuriatniki_, or "chicken stealers," by the peasants, and likened by
the better informed to the dread bodyguard of Ivan the Terrible.

A graphic picture has been painted by the famous Vera Zassoulich, in her
Memoirs, of the visit of a rural policeman to a peasant's house in
company with the tax collector of the district. Vera, a young lady of
high birth and much beauty, spent, in pursuit of the Nihilistic
propaganda she was preaching, long periods under the roofs of villagers,
and she was working as an ordinary seamstress in one house when a
descent was made upon it. "I was sitting," she writes, "at the door of
the one room of the hut when the policeman appeared, accompanied by an
old soldier in a dirty grey greatcoat, and followed by two peasants....
I was called upon to give my name, produce my passport, and state how
long I meant to reside in that place.... Then, in reply to my questions,
I was told that the police had come to back up the tax gatherer, and I
saw what happened if the payments were in default. The stove of the hut
was smashed, then smeared with tar, so were the walls, the furniture and
wearing apparel; after that every piece of crockery in the place was
broken and the pieces thrown out of the window. The horse and cow were
taken out of the stalls and carried off to be sold."


(_In Possession of H. de Windt, Esq._)]

2. The political or State police was the invention of Nicholas I.
Alexander I. had created a Ministry of the Interior, but it was Nicholas
who devised the second branch, which he designed for his own protection
and the security of the State. After the insurrection of 1865 he created
a special bulwark for his defence, and invented that secret police
which grew into the notorious "Third Section" of the Emperor's own
chancery. It has been said, with reason, that no Russian, in the days of
its most dreaded activity, could mention its name without a shudder. It
has been likened to that other secret tribunal, that so long oppressed
Venice, the Council of Ten. It was the most powerful instrument an
absolute Government ever called to its aid. The terrors it inspired were
heightened by the mysterious silence that overshadowed its proceedings.
It worked secretly, but struck with unerring severity; its methods were
dark and devious; it was unjust, unfair, illegal, respecting neither
caste nor sex. Women, ladies of rank and beauty and fashion, were said
to have been seized ruthlessly by its unscrupulous agents, tried in
secret conclave, and punished then and there with the whip. Many people
were hurried away to Siberia without any form of trial at all--the first
application of the system known as "administrative process," which
became very common in after years, when the publicity of the Courts
would have been inconvenient, or convictions uncertain in due course of
law. The Third Section, while it lasted, was the most dreaded power in
the empire. It was practically supreme in the State, a Ministry
independent of all other Ministries, placed quite above them, and
responsible only to the Czar himself.

The Third Section had its prototype in the privileged bodyguard of Ivan
the Terrible, which laid the whole country under contribution. Another
Czar, Alexis, had his secret police, and his son, Peter the Great,
invented a police system of a most formidable kind. It was known as the
Preobrajenski, from the place where it had its headquarters, and was in
fact a modern civil Inquisition, more terrible, more powerful even than
the religious Inquisition of Spain. Peter the Great very likely felt
that, with the many changes he introduced into national life, which so
often roused the most obstinate resistance, he ought to have ready to
his hand an instrument of coercion supported by espionage. It was in
effect the Third Section, as we have seen it since, and although it was
solemnly suppressed by Peter III. in 1762, it survived in that Third
Section, just as the latter survives in the existing organisation of the
Russian police.

For many years, under Alexander II., the Third Section was much more
than a State police; it was a power apart in the Government, exercising
independent authority, having many privileges, placed


outside and above the laws. Its chief, who was also called the Head of
the Gendarmerie, was by right a member of the Council, and he was the
most confidential servant of the Emperor, with whom he was ever in the
most intimate relations. He exercised something like absolute power; his
veto could in effect control all appointments, because he could adduce
police reasons based on police knowledge against any person. He had, in
fact, complete control over everyone and everything in the empire; he
could arrest, lock up, exile, cause anyone he liked to disappear.

[Illustration: _Photo: Bergamasco, Petersburg._


Under the enlightened _régime_ of Alexander II., it seemed for a while
as though the Third Section had lost much of its authority. But the
first attempt upon the Czar's life in 1866 at Kara Kossoff restored it
to full activity, and one of the most prominent men in the empire,
Schouvaloff, was placed at its head, thus restoring it to its ancient
prestige, for the chief of the Third Section had invariably been a
person of great consequence, as indeed the important functions he
exercised demanded. But the revival of the Third Section was not
justified by any subsequent success; in the years immediately following
it proved itself singularly inefficient, unable either to prevent or to
put down the outrages committed in broad day. It showed itself useless
at St. Petersburg, at Kieff, at Odessa, at Karkoff, in all the great
cities; it neither was able to defend itself against the conspiracies,
nor could it detect or capture the conspirators. The first acts of the
new revolution had been directed against the Third Section, and these
attacks preceded those upon the Czar and his throne. The two last
chiefs, General Mezentzoff and General Drenteln, fell victims to the
Nihilists. The first was stabbed by some unknown person in the streets
of St. Petersburg, the second was fired at in broad daylight by a young
man on horseback, who was not arrested for a number of years. These
attempts are to be placed to the credit of Nihilism, for they
practically ended the Third Section.

Nominally this redoubtable office was abolished, but that did not mean
that the arbitrary surveillance of the police was ended. Alexander II.
hoped, perhaps, that he was wiping out a symbol of despotism, but he
retained the substance while discarding the shadow. The change meant no
more than the fusion of his private palace police with the ordinary
public police. There was no longer a head of the Third Section, but
there was a Minister of the Interior; it was the consolidation and
concentration of power in one hand, and there it has remained.

There was good reason for the change; the various classes of police,
instead of helping, hampered and interfered with each other. There were
three police forces in the capital and all large cities; that of the
Minister of the Interior, the city police, and the Third Section,
already described. They were perpetually getting in each other's way,
and it was said that the State confided to their care was in as bad a
way as the baby with five nurses. Often enough, like the famous
detectives of the French farce, _Tricoche et Cacolet_, policemen hunted
policemen; they were all suspicious of people who seemed too much on the
alert, and the consequence was that much time and trouble was wasted in
mutual surveillance. Sometimes it happened that the agents of the Third
Section, fancying they had made an important arrest, found to their
chagrin that they had only caught their comrades; meanwhile, the
Nihilists had a practically free hand and terrorised the whole country.

The absolute incompetence of his protectors appears to have been brought
home to Alexander II. by the incident known as the "Paris box of pills."
A parcel arrived one morning labelled "Pills for asthma and rheumatism:
Dr. Jus, Paris." It was addressed direct to the Czar, who was reported
to be suffering from these complaints. Alexander handed the box over to
his private physician for examination, and the moment it was opened one
of the pills exploded. More care was shown in verifying the remaining
pills, and it was found that they were filled with dynamite.

There have been times when the police of Russia were stirred to the
utmost activity. After the murder of General Mezentzoff in broad
daylight and in one of the principal squares of St. Petersburg, such
profound dismay prevailed that the police were unceasingly on the _qui
vive_. The perpetrators of the deed, nevertheless, had disappeared,
leaving no trace, and the police in their frenzied eagerness turned the
city upside down. Searches innumerable of all suspected houses were
made, and the most arbitrary arrests took place on the slightest whisper
of anything wrong. Reports at the time put the numbers taken into
custody at quite a thousand.

Yet "illegal" or "irregular" people, as they were styled by the officers
of the law, came and went, moving about with impunity under the very
noses of the police, and, as a rule, escaping scot-free. They found
shelter in houses of friends and sympathisers--persons of all classes,
some of them least likely on the face of it to assist the Nihilists.
Stepniak tells us in his "Underground Russia" that these _likrivateli_,
as they are called in Russian, or "concealers," were to be found among
the highest aristocracy as well as in the ranks of Government officials,
including even members of the police, all of them people who, for some
reason or other, hesitated to give active support to the conspiracy, but
who were nevertheless well disposed towards it, and proved this by
hiding individuals for whom there was a hue-and-cry. Stepniak describes
various types of this very numerous and varied class.

One of these sympathisers with Nihilism was known among the conspirators
as the _dvornik_, because in his anxious care for the safety of his
companions he ruled them as tyrannically as the doorkeeper, whose
functions as an unpaid assistant of the police have been already
described. This man made it his business to impress caution on his
comrades, and so strictly, that when anyone was known to be under
surveillance he would arrange for his concealment, and insist constantly
on changing the hiding-place. The _dvornik_ was quite a specialist in
the business of circumventing the police. He knew them by heart and all
their ways. On one occasion he hired an apartment exactly opposite the
house in which the chief of the secret police lived, and watched it so
closely day after day that he became acquainted with numbers of persons
employed by the Police. He knew half the spies in St. Petersburg by
sight, and had made a study of their peculiar methods, their manner of
watching, the way they started on a hunt, how they pursued their quarry.
After a time he could "spot" any new spy, could penetrate the cleverest
disguises of the old hands and detect small signs that betrayed them to
him, but were quite unseen by others. In the same way he had thoroughly
mastered St. Petersburg: he knew his way all over the city, was
acquainted with all sorts of places of refuge and with every house that
had two outlets, so that he was invaluable in helping anyone to escape.
A fugitive placed under his guidance could be conveyed with absolute
safety from one part of the city to another, so clever was he in
covering up his tracks.

[Illustration: _Photo: Bergamasco, St. Petersburg_


Speaking on the general question, Leroy Beaulieu in his monumental work
on Russia says: "The police has been at all times a sink of abuses and
extortions, because, of all departments, it enjoys the greatest
facilities for indulging in them. In spite of the particular attention
of which it has always been the object, this department, on which all
the rest lean for support, has always been so far one of the most
defective. In the cities, especially in the capitals, where
they are under the eyes of the highest authorities, the force
leave--externally--little to be desired. They are attentive, courteous,
helpful, if not always honest. A foreigner who, in St. Petersburg,
judged them from the outside only, would think the service perfect. Yet
the long unpunished daring of the Nihilists has revealed only too
clearly its incompetence and carelessness. The astounding powerlessness
which the police displayed on these occasions is traceable chiefly to
the habitual vices of Russian administration: ignorance, indolence,

General Baranof in 1881, when head of the police, found that a great
number of his men could not sign their names correctly. Many more, even
those of high grades, were supremely ignorant of the laws and
regulations they were called upon to administer. The general tone was
low, and the force was recruited from a very inferior class, for the
police and their work are much despised by respectable citizens. The
pay has always been ridiculously small, thereby directly encouraging the
dishonest practices, the more or less enforced contributions levied on
the public in every direction, by which it has been eked out. The
members of a force, driven by extreme penury into illicit earnings,
could hardly be loyal, and it has been always easy for the
revolutionists to buy relaxed watchfulness, and even complicity. So
ineffective was the official police that in 1881 the city of St.
Petersburg was invited to reinforce it by electing a council to
co-operate in watching over the personal safety of the Czar. It was not
the first time that well meaning loyal subjects had desired to assist
the Government in the pursuit of its foes. The idea of the _droujina_,
an ancient secret society, was revived. It was a sort of Vigilance
Society composed of special police volunteers, acting with the official
police, but unpaid, and with no recognised status. The promoters thought
that the best method of combating conspiracy was to meet conspirators on
their own ground and with their own arms. Its organisation and action
were secret. Among other measures it offered rewards to peasants and
workmen who would inform the authorities of any plots in progress;
another idea was to meet outrage by anticipation, to face the Nihilists
with their own weapons, and blow them up with dynamite before they could
use it to subvert existing authority. The _droujina_ rejoiced in the
epithets of "holy" and "life-saving," but it achieved nothing tangible.
It had the command of considerable funds, freely subscribed, and was
carried on by a number of zealous persons, but it is not on record that
they arrested a single conspirator, though, like the police, they
sometimes took up the wrong people.

The well-known case of Vera Zassoulich showed conclusively how little
the police were able to protect themselves. It was she who resolved,
like a second Charlotte Corday, to call General Trépoff, the Prefect of
civil police in St. Petersburg, to account for his cruel ill-usage of a
prisoner, one Bogoli Ouboff. This man at one of Trépoff's inspections
did not remove his hat when the General passed. Trépoff not only struck
him with his stick, but ordered him to be flogged. Corporal punishment
had been abolished, and the order was therefore illegal; it caused great
indignation in St. Petersburg, and nearly produced a serious outbreak in
the prison. The story travelled far and wide, finally reaching the ears
of Vera Zassoulich in a far-off province, that of Penza, seven months
later. She started at once for St. Petersburg, and obtained admission to
Trépoff's presence on pretence of presenting a petition. But directly
she saw him she drew a pistol from her pocket and fired at him
point-blank. Trépoff was badly wounded in the side, but eventually
recovered. Vera was seized and removed, but her demeanour was calm and
self-possessed, and she only asked to be allowed to put on her shawl,
which she had left in the waiting-room. It was thought that Vera's
attack was a part of a general conspiracy, but there seems to be little
doubt that she acted altogether alone and on her own motion.

The sequel was curious, and showed how generally Trépoffs arbitrariness
was condemned. Vera was brought before an ordinary tribunal, tried, and
acquitted. Her friends then very judiciously got her out of the country,
fearing, and with good reason, that this decision would not be allowed
to stand. They were perfectly right, for the Government overruled the
verdict, although given by a legally constituted tribunal, and ordered
Vera to be re-arrested. Happily for her, she was already safe in
Switzerland. After this the Government decreed by ukase that all
political offences should be tried, not by a jury, but by a specially
constituted tribunal. They were, in fact, to be brought before a
court-martial having the same powers as in war-time, and inflicting
penalties under the military code, which included deportation and the
loss of civil rights.

The passport, by which every individual is, or ought to be, held and
ticketed so as to be recognised and easily followed wherever he goes, is
a terrible burden on a people half of whom are compelled by the climate
and the poorness of the soil to spend six months of every year away from
home. To be obliged to take out a passport before leaving home is at
once a hindrance to movement and a tax upon the pocket. To abolish the
passport would be a first great step towards according freedom to the
whole population. As it is, no one can choose his own residence, nor
follow his profession as he pleases; still less can people collect and
group themselves in places where the productiveness of the soil would
naturally encourage them to do so. Yet the obligation is by no means
effective; it is constantly evaded. The fabrication of false passports
is a very flourishing trade, which has been of immense service to the
revolutionists in covering up their movements and concealing from the
eyes of justice those "wanted."


A story is told of a Russian gentleman who was in a hurry to leave
Odessa and travel to the shores of the Mediterranean. Not choosing to
waste time in presenting himself at the Passport Bureau, he accepted the
services of a commissionaire, who promised to get him the passport for a
comparatively small sum, a little under £4. The would-be traveller
accepted the offer, and next day started from home with the passport all
in proper form.

Nor have the passport regulations reduced the number of vagrants for
ever on the tramp, who can show no papers, and yet are seldom interfered
with. When the authorities awoke suddenly to the need for enforcing the
rules in some of the more remote towns, such as Tiflis and Odessa, there
was a general exodus of the working population, and the well-to-do
people were left without the servants, small tradespeople, and others
who had ministered to their wants.

The passport regulations oppress all classes. The well-to-do Russian who
would go abroad must pay for the privilege; the tax is at present ten
roubles (about thirty shillings), but in the days of Nicholas I. it was
five hundred roubles, and some are in favour of reviving this costly
tariff. When the police are stirred up by some Nihilist outrage, a high
price must be paid to obtain a travelling passport, but it can be got,
as can almost anything in Russia, for money. The burden, however, weighs
heaviest on the poorer classes, who are constantly liable to be bullied
by the police to produce passports, and imposed upon by the communal
authorities when renewal is sought. Passports are often lost by their
holders, more often stolen from them. When this happens, the loser, if
he is a stranger from a rural district residing in a city on sufferance,
may find himself in sore straits. It is an expensive and tedious
business to obtain another passport, and to be without one is to run
perpetual risk of trouble with the police. The man without a passport is
thus often thrown into the arms of the revolutionary party, who, if he
will accept their tenets, readily obtain him a false passport, and find
him the work he could not get without its production. Again, it is known
that many peasants residing in towns suffer from the dilatoriness or
unconcern of the authorities whose duty it is to renew their passports.
Cases are on record where the fear of police persecution while
passportless has driven men to suicide. A village girl killed herself in
1879 because she could not get her papers renewed and the family in
which she was working would not re-engage her.

The passport arrangements appear to be more stringent in connection with
natives than with visitors, but the latter are denied the comparative
freedom they once enjoyed. At one time a visitor might remain a month in
the country without inquiry or interference; now it is necessary to
register the passport for a stay of anything over three days; the
document is lodged at the police office, and the hotel-keeper, landlord,
or host becomes responsible for the traveller. It is the same with any
driver of a post-chaise in the country districts, who has to produce his
passenger at every station. Letters are only delivered after
registration of the passport, and then on a certificate filled in by the
chief of police of the district. Passports are taxed, and bring in a
considerable revenue to the Government; at one time a visitor paid £12
for registration, but the fee has been considerably reduced. During the
reign of Nicholas I. it rose as high as £40.


(_In Possession of H. de Windt, Esq._)]


MODERN POLICE (_continued_): INDIA.

     The New System Compared with the Old--Early Difficulties Gradually
     Overcome--The Village Police in India--Discreditable Methods under
     the Old System--Torture, Judicial and Extra-judicial--Native
     Dislike of Police Proceedings--Cases of Men Confessing to Crimes of
     which they were Innocent--A Mysterious Case of Theft--Trumped-up
     Charges of Murder--Simulating Suicide--An Infallible Test of
     Death--The Paternal Duties of the Police--The Native Policeman
     Badly Paid.

The regular police of India, as it is now constituted, dates from the
disappearance of the East India Company. Under the old system, taking
Bengal for our example, the district magistrate, a member of the Civil
Service, was the head of the district police. He had under his orders a
certain number of constables, fifty or more, who were called
_burkundazes_; they were distributed among the various stations or
_thannahs_, each of which was under a thannadar, who was more commonly
called a _darogah_, and was practically a police superintendent. This
officer was responsible to the magistrate only, just as the magistrate
was directly responsible to the supreme Government. But after 1859 the
police throughout the province of Bengal, and eventually throughout
India, was constituted into a special department; the regular force
became a species of Government constabulary, under the central authority
of an Inspector-General seated at Calcutta, with Deputy-Inspectors and
Superintendents in charge of divisions and districts respectively. The
senior police official in every district, generally a military officer,
was associated with and subject to the orders of the magistrate in all
executive duties, such as the repression of crime and the maintenance of
peace and good order; but as regards administration, in all questions of
pay, clothing, promotion, and so forth, the chief police officer looked
to his police superior, the Inspector-General.

Nevertheless, the character of the new police was as little military as


it could be made consistently with the control and discipline of a large
body of men. Constables learnt the rudiments of drill, and wore uniform,
but were seldom armed except when employed in gaols or to guard
treasuries. As a general rule supervision was entirely entrusted to
Europeans, but there was a superior grade of native officer fairly well
paid. Yet the service was not generally popular, owing to persistent
local prejudices, and good material was not always available either for
sub-officers or for constables. Natives preferred to enter the fiscal
and administrative departments.

At first the new force did not work very smoothly. The military
superintendents were not always acceptable to the civilian magistrates,
and no doubt many thought more of drill than of their more important
functions in preventing and detecting crime. Numbers of the old order of
police hated the "new-fangled notions" and resigned, with the result
that the force was recruited hastily with inexperienced, often
unsuitable men, many of them old soldiers, and few, if any, fitted to
deal with intricate and complicated police investigations. Colonel
Lewin, one of the first-appointed district superintendents, has frankly
recorded his want of experience and his mis-directed zeal when first
called to police work; but he also hints at the difficulties and
obstacles thrown in his way by magistrates who hated the change.
Gradually, however, the steady, settled action of the well-organised,
well-governed body of earnest workers has made itself felt, and the
regular Indian police of to-day is not inferior to any in the whole

Another form of police has existed from time immemorial in India, the
rural or village police, and it has still a certain limited power. These
functionaries hold office by a quasi-hereditary tenure; they are not
appointed by the State nor paid from the public treasury, but they have
a recognised position; their clearly defined duties, as well as their
emoluments, drawn from the villages, are fixed and controlled by
authority. These village watchmen, and they are little more, although
distinct and separate from the regular police by constitution, are yet
allied to them, being expected to report to them, without fail, all
criminal and extraordinary occurrences, and at the same time to take
their orders and execute them punctually. This local, unofficial police
is not in the highest state of efficiency, perhaps, but much has been
done of late to bring its members into good order, and to exact from
them a punctual performance of their duties. The worst that could be
alleged against them was that they might at times work with evil-doers
who were their friends and neighbours, or that they might yield to the
threats or temptations of the larger landowners around when these were
criminally disposed.

It has been said by all who know India well that the deceit inherent in
the character of its people must tend to interfere with the course of
justice. Witnesses will not speak freely, or will say too much; they
conceal facts or over-colour them just as their interests suggest; some
can be bought, others intimidated, while the most independent chafe at
police inquiries which are apt to be wearisome and irritating, and
though not always personally hostile, will say anything or nothing
merely to get rid of the police. "They would condone even grievous
wrongs," says Sir Richard Temple,[17] "disavow the losses of property
which they had suffered, and withhold all assistance from their
neighbours in similar plights, rather than undergo the trouble of
attending at police offices and the criminal courts."

Police methods under the old system were often most discreditable. The
native officers charged with detection had but one thought--to make the
case complete. For this they would invent facts, manufacturing evidence
from witnesses inspired by themselves. "The police," an eminent Indian
judge once said from the Bench, "will never leave a case alone, but must
always prepare it and patch it up by teaching the witnesses to learn
their evidence off by heart beforehand, and to say more than they know."
In another case a judge gave it as his opinion that certain prisoners
confessed to a burglary merely to screen others whom the police
befriended, and that in the prosecution there was not a single fact on
which he could with confidence rely. Again, a _darogah_, or village
official, was so impressed with the necessity for succeeding where his
colleagues had failed, in a murder case, that he used the most
unjustifiable means to create evidence: witnesses were forced under
threats and ill-treatment to depose to facts which had never occurred.
Another reprehensible practice was that of drugging prisoners before
their appearance in court so that they could make no defence. One was
given a hookah to smoke, and remembered nothing of what he said or had
to say. Still worse remains, for it is a well-authenticated fact,
attested by all who have personal experience, that where evidence of the
right sort was not forthcoming it was obtained by intimidation or actual

Of the survival of torture in India as a judicial process, secret and
unavowed, but undoubtedly practised, there can be no doubt. It was the
subject of constant regret to conscientious English officials, who were
yet unable entirely to check it. Cases of cruel maltreatment were
continually brought to light, and met with exemplary punishment. Thus in
1855 a _darogah_ and his men were convicted in the Court of the
"Twenty-four Pergunnahs" of having tortured a man into confession by
tying his hands behind him and then hoisting him by his wrists to a beam
in the roof. Another case consisted in tying a prisoner's hands and feet
together and introducing a stick below the knees, after which the
police, holding each end of the stick, dashed him violently against the

As late as 1866, after the introduction of the new system, an inspector
and sub-inspector trussed up four recalcitrant prisoners upon the roof
of a house and left them there to starve. In the same year another
sub-inspector was transported for life for having caused the death of a
suspected thief by ill-usage. In this case the victim was stripped on a
cold February night, whipped, then water was poured upon his naked body,
and a fan was used to keep down the temperature. Again, in the same
year, a high official, Colonel Pughe, reports twelve cases in which the
police were accused of torturing prisoners, and out of the twelve cases
seven convictions were secured. He relates in the same document that
soon after the establishment of the new police, a sub-inspector of the
old school ordered a man to be tied up and flogged to extort confession
from him, and this in open day in the middle of a large bazaar in the
Hooghly district! "So little was the occurrence thought of," writes
Colonel Pughe, "that no complaint was made by the sufferer, and it was
by the merest accident that the circumstance came to notice." The custom
till then was apparently too common to attract attention. The people of
Bengal had become accustomed to be flogged, just as the fakir grew so
fond of his bed studded with pointed nails that he could not sleep
comfortably on any other. As late as 1870 the editor of a respectable
periodical in Bengal expressed his belief that the flogging of supposed
delinquents had been so long practised with impunity that the natives
took it as a matter of course.

[Illustration: INDIAN POLICE AND THEIR METHODS (p. 316).]

It may be interesting to make a short digression here and recount some
of the modes of extra-judicial torture that have prevailed throughout
India. There is abundant evidence that this atrocious custom was, and
probably still is, common among all sects and classes of natives in
India. Dr. Cheevers gives it as his opinion that "the poor practise
torture upon each other; robbers on their victims, and _vice versâ_;
masters upon their servants; _zemindars_ upon their ryots; schoolmasters
upon their pupils; husbands upon their wives; and even parents upon
their children." "The very plays of the populace," says another
authority, "excite the laughter of many a rural audience by the
exhibition of revenue squeezed out of a defaulter coin by coin through
the appliance of familiar provocatives." Colonel Lewin, already quoted,
details some of the devices which he discovered had been in use among
the old police. They would fill the nose and ears of a prisoner with
cayenne pepper; stop the circulation of the blood with tight ligaments;
suspend their victim head downwards in a well; and in cases of great
obstinacy immerse the body repeatedly in the water until insensibility,
but not death, was produced.

Dr. Cheevers has been at great pains to collect details of the various
processes. They are torture by heat--by a lighted torch or red hot
charcoal or burning tongs, or by boiling oil, which sometimes was poured
into the ears and nose; torture by cold; suspension by the wrists, by
the feet, by the hair, by the moustache; confinement in a cell
containing quicklime; blinding by the _bhela_ nut; placing on a bed of
thorns; rubbing the face on the ground; employing the stocks; tying the
limbs in constrained postures; placing stinging or annoying insects upon
the skin; flogging with stinging nettles; sticking pins or thorns or
slithers of bamboo under the nails; beating the ankles and other joints
with a soft mallet--a devilish invention from Madras. The list is long
and horrible, but before leaving the subject we may mention milder
methods, as they seem, because the ill-treatment leaves no mark, but in
which the agony is nevertheless extreme. Exposure to the sun is one of
these, starvation another, pinching a third, and "running up and down" a
fourth, as practised in Madras till quite recently, according to a
report under date 1870, where the police, unable to obtain evidence,
made it their business to "walk the prisoner about." This was not done,
as was pretended, out of mere wantonness, but with the ostensible
purpose of obliging him to show where certain stolen property was
hidden. The police relieved each other every two hours or so, but the
prisoners were kept perpetually in motion. After a night's unceasing
promenade the craving for rest and sleep becomes imperative, especially
in a native who is always ready to sleep, and is often awake for no more
than eight hours out of the twenty-four. Other refinements of torture
are the infliction of degradation and mental suffering by breaking
caste, and by exposing the victims to various indignities.

Police action in India is often complicated, impeded, and even
neutralised by the peculiar conditions of the country, where long
prevailing, more or less ineradicable custom is supreme. The average
native does not pause to balance right or wrong; he likes to do just as
his forefathers did through the centuries, and fails to see why an act
honoured by long prescription should be called wrong-doing. Offences
that the present rulers of India have put down with a strong hand, such
as suttee (widow burning), leper burying, and suicide, the natives are
still reluctant to call crimes. Thuggee, the cowardly murder and robbery
of inoffensive and unsuspicious travellers, was part of its
perpetrators' religion; theft is to thousands a sport or a profession, a
habit or family tradition inherited from ancestors who were all
gang-robbers. While thus tradition and custom continue to make even
serious crime appear venial to the ordinary intelligence, the
investigation is continually hampered, and the actual fact often
concealed. Many natives, as I have said, detest police proceedings,
afraid of their being unduly prolonged, of their wasting time, of their
imposing the inconvenient presence of officers charged with the inquiry.
Others forbear to speak, either fearing the enmity of the friends or
neighbours they may implicate or with a mistaken tenderness for their
honour. Yet again, timidity, venality, or stupidity has led to
concealment. Witnesses whose testimony was damaging have often been
bought off, having been found ready to perjure themselves for quite
small sums.

[Illustration: MADRAS POLICEMAN.]

The police themselves have been known to hush up crimes, having been
bribed to silence, and it has been discovered later that some mysterious
murder had been no secret to them from the first. They have been known
on sufficient payment to transport a victim's corpse to another
jurisdiction, so that they might evade all responsibility for its
presence. Suspicion of foul play was once aroused (it was in the old
days) by the fact that certain persons who had but just dug a well for
the irrigation of their fields had, for no plausible reason, filled it
up again. Police officers were ordered to reopen the well, and they
reported that they had done so, finding nothing wrong. But the
magistrate of the district heard presently that a woman had been seen in
the neighbourhood of the well just about the time it had been filled up,
and that she had disappeared. Rumour said she had been murdered for the
sake of some golden ornaments which she wore. The well was now dug out
under the official's own eye, and it was clear that a female corpse had
been buried within; a quantity of long hair was found, but the body had
been removed, probably by the police.

The dishonest vagaries of the Indian police are nearly endless. The
police when baffled in detection will try to create a criminal and
manufacture a crime. Higher officials must always be on their guard
against such frauds. It is essential, for example, to watch
identification closely. A case is on record where the headless body of a
woman was found in a well, and suspicion fell upon certain Rajpoots
whose sister was known to be missing. They were arrested, and confessed
most circumstantially that they had in truth murdered her. Conviction
followed, and they would have been executed but for the unexpected
reappearance of the missing woman herself. She had eloped with a man
who, having heard of the charge brought against her brothers, produced
her in court. The accused men, thus saved at the eleventh hour,
explained their false confession by their fears that they could not
prove their innocence, so strong was the presumption of their guilt. It
should be added that the headless corpse was never identified.

One more case of the same kind. A corpse bearing marks of violence was
found floating on the Teesta river, and a murder was surmised. The
head-constable proceeded to investigate, and found a woman ready to
declare that her adopted father, Oootum by name, was missing. She could
not identify the body at first, but was eventually persuaded to do so.
Corroboration was now needed, and after that the discovery of the
perpetrators of the crime. Aided by the woman, the constable fixed upon
four men, who were forced (probably in the usual manner) to confess that
they had murdered Oootum. Fortunately, at the first inquiry into the
case the missing Oootum turned up before the district magistrate. For
this the head-constable and three associates were very rightly sentenced
to five years' imprisonment.

[Illustration: _Photo: Bourne & Shepherd, Calcutta._


A curious case of theft which was never explained, although the supposed
thief was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to imprisonment, is told by
a Bengal civilian. It appears that a Mr. and Mrs. Phillips were on a
visit to the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, and that one evening the
lady missed a diamond ring. Information was at once lodged with the
police, and a native detective was employed, who entered the Governor's
service disguised as a _kitmutgar_ (butler). Suspicion from the first
had rested upon an _ayah_, or female servant, and it was to be the
detective's duty to worm himself into her confidence. The police officer
was successful, as it seemed, for the woman presently admitted that she
had stolen the ring. She was anxious to dispose of it, but did not dare.
However, she picked out one diamond and handed it over to him to sell,
promising him others if he succeeded. The police officer produced the
diamond, which was identified by Mrs. Phillips as one belonging to her
ring. On this evidence the _ayah_ was tried and convicted. She appealed,
but the conviction was upheld.

Not long afterwards Mr. and Mrs. Phillips moved up country, and on
unpacking their goods the missing ring was found jammed into an
inkstand, with all the diamonds intact. The case was immediately
reopened, and it was recommended that the _ayah_ should be forthwith
released. One of the judges protested, however, that the conviction was
legal, on the ground that the prisoner's friends had inserted a diamond
in the place of the one removed, and had put the ring where it was
certain to be found. Nevertheless the _ayah_ was pardoned. The theory
held was that the detective, eager to get the credit of having
discovered the thief, had fabricated the whole story and gone to the
expense of purchasing a diamond in support of it. He still stuck to it
that the woman had given him the diamond, which, as has been seen, was
one more than the ring contained. Now another strange fact cropped up.
Mrs. Phillips discovered that a diamond was missing from a locket she
possessed, and when this locket was produced the surplus diamond
appeared to fit into the vacant space. From this a new theory was
started--that the _ayah_ had really stolen the ring, but, distrusting
the disguised _kitmutgar_, had also picked out the diamond from the
locket to test his willingness to serve her. When, later, the case had
gone against her, her friends had intervened in the manner described,
replacing the ring in the hope of obtaining her pardon. Jewellers who
were consulted gave it as their opinion that the surplus diamond was
very similar to those in the locket, but no one could swear that it was
one of the same. There the matter rested, and the mystery has never been

Attempts to defeat the ends of justice are very often made in India by
the natives themselves on their own motion, to satisfy some personal
animosity. Many cases might be cited of conspiracy to advance false and
malicious charges against an enemy. In one case wounds were fabricated
on a body already dead to support an accusation of murder. An old man
was found with his head nearly separated from his body and other deep
wounds in both shoulders, besides cuts on the back. Yet there had been
no considerable effusion of blood, no retraction of the muscles, and
medical opinion was emphatic that all these injuries had been inflicted
after death, which had undoubtedly occurred from long-standing
tubercular disease. It was presently shown that the whole case had been
trumped up to support a charge of murder against an unpopular neighbour.


A monstrous case is recorded by Mr. Arthur Crawford, whose
"Reminiscences" have been several times quoted in these pages, in which
a son was on such bad terms with his father that he elaborated a great
plot to involve him in disgrace and suffering, if not to convict him of
his own (the son's) murder. The father was an aged and most respectable
Brahmin in the South Konkan, Madhowrao by name, described as a kindly,
courtly native gentleman, with intellectual, well-cut features, and
spare and active in body. He had this one son, Vinayek, a constant
trouble to him, chiefly on account of his wandering habits. He often
absented himself for months together, and roamed the country as a
_gosai_, or religious mendicant. After an unusually protracted absence,
the father offered the police a reward if they would trace and find his
son. The matter was taken up by a local constable, and he had no sooner
commenced his investigations than he received an anonymous letter
through the post charging the father with having made away with his son.
The story was told most circumstantially: how Madhowrao, assisted by his
widowed sister, who acted as his housekeeper, had strangled Vinayek in
the dead of night, and had then employed two servants to throw the body
to the alligators, at the foot of a torrent hard by the village. These
servants came forward and described how they had seen the corpse with
protruding eyes and tongue, the cord still round its neck, then how they
had stripped it, and, tying it to a heavy stone, had thrown it into the
water. The constable searched the house, and found hidden away a bundle
of clothes with a pair of sandals. Moreover, he fished up a great heap
of bones from the alligators' pool. The whole party were arrested, and
the servants, the chief witnesses, were examined. They stuck to their
story, declared that they had acted solely to oblige their master, who,
they saw, was in great distress, and said that was all they knew.

But Madhowrao himself stoutly denied his guilt, repeating always that
his son was alive, but was only keeping out of the way until his father
was hanged. Closer inquiry was in the father's favour, for it was
clearly proved that the bones found in the water were those of a
bullock, and also that there was no sort of attempt to conceal Vinayek's
clothes. Nevertheless, the High Court, to which the matter had been
referred, pressed for the committal of the prisoners.

Meanwhile, the head constable, a very keen-witted and indefatigable
officer, had gone away on a journey. Pleading ill-health, he had sought,
and obtained, three months' sick leave, which he had spent to very good
purpose in searching for the missing Vinayek. He ran him down at length
at a great distance, somewhere in the territory of the Nizam, and
brought him back in person, to be confronted with his father, who was
still lying under the charge of compassing his death. A very dramatic
scene followed; Vinayek was brought into court almost noiselessly behind
Madhowrao, who was desired to turn round; at sight of his son he fell
down flat on his face insensible, while his sister went off into
hysterics. Now Vinayek made full confession of the plot, in which he had
been assisted by a young cousin. He was to disappear, as he did, and
after an interval the other was to denounce the murderers; the two
servants were suborned by the promise of a good reward when Vinayek came
into his estate, and they very properly shared the punishment which was
inflicted on the chief conspirators.


In these cases it was vindictiveness and animosity that led to the plot,
which was only unmasked by the astuteness and perseverance of the
police. But greed also is a potent incentive to false accusation of
crime, and thus it was with Khan Beg. Coveting the inheritance of a rich
relative, Ibrahim Beg, whose heir he was, he laid a deep scheme to
secure it without waiting for Ibrahim's death. Khan Beg was a dissolute
wastrel who had been reduced to poverty by his own extravagance, and who
knew that he might expect no further help from his kinsman. Ibrahim was
married to a young and handsome wife, Chumbelee, with whom he did not
live on the very best of terms, due mainly to the lying stories of a
confidential servant, an accomplice of Khan Beg's. One day in a fit of
fury he forgot himself so far as to raise his hand against Chumbelee.
The woman, goaded by pain and disgrace, screamed aloud in the full
hearing of neighbours and servants. Next morning she was gone, and
information was laid at the nearest police station by the manservant
above mentioned that Chumbelee had been murdered. Officers proceeded at
once to Ibrahim Beg's house, and searched the premises. It was soon seen
that some earth in the courtyard had been recently moved; on digging,
the headless body of a woman was found a little way down. The body was
identified by the manservant, who swore to a bangle found upon one arm,
remembering that he had once taken it for his mistress to be mended. A
slave-girl who did the household work also declared that the body was

Ibrahim Beg was, of course, apprehended, and locked up, vainly
protesting his innocence. His own story was that he had been stupefied,
he knew not how, by some narcotic, and after his violent quarrel with
his wife, which he did not deny, he had fallen asleep until a late hour
the following morning. His jealousy and ill-treatment of his wife were
notorious, and told greatly against him; the seclusion in which he had
always kept her also militated against him now. So few people had seen
her that there was no more evidence of identity than that already
adduced. All that could be said in his favour was that without the head,
absolute recognition was impossible. Ibrahim Beg himself stoutly denied
that the corpse was Chumbelee's. The trial proceeded, and ended in his
conviction; the case was referred to a superior court, which deemed the
evidence conclusive; the sentence of death passed was about to be
executed, and Khan Beg was on the point of obtaining his ends and
acquiring considerable wealth.

But now came the slip. An anonymous letter was received by a young
English civilian who had charge of the district, informing him that
Chumbelee was still alive, actually residing within twenty miles of the
scene of her supposed murder. The magistrate, knowing it to be a case of
life and death, straightway rode to the place indicated, a certain tomb
occupied by a gang of fakirs, men of evil repute, whom it was necessary
to approach with caution. The magistrate, summoning the village police
to his aid, cautiously surrounded the tomb, then broke in, and searched
the whole place. He came upon Chumbelee at last in an underground

She was, of course, forthwith taken out and brought back to her
husband's house. The whole plot was now laid bare by the manservant,
anxious to save his own skin. He had long been in the power of Khan Beg,
and agreed to assist him the moment a body could be found to be palmed
off as Chumbelee's. A widower at last consented to sell the corpse of
his recently deceased wife, which they took and decapitated. It was the
manservant who had administered the drug to Ibrahim; he made the
slave-girl prisoner, and then carried off Chumbelee in a blanket to the
fakirs' tomb. Ibrahim Beg, when he recovered next morning from the
effects of the drug, gave the police no information of his wife's
disappearance, for he believed that she had eloped and left him of her
own accord. The whole of this pernicious plot was admirably planned, but
it failed, as such plots often do, through the avarice of the principal
personage. Khan Beg had refused to pay a sum promised to one of his
subordinate helpers, and the latter had written the anonymous letter.

[Illustration: A FAKIR.]

In no country is it so essential that the body, in the case of a
supposed crime, should be not only produced, but identified, as in
India. An Englishman who was ascending the Hooghly nearly suffered the
extreme penalty of the law through ignorance of this axiom. He had left
his ship at Diamond harbour and hired a native boat to take him on to
Calcutta. The boatmen greatly exasperated him by their laziness, and he
applied his stick to them so vigorously that three jumped overboard.
Their comrades declared that they were drowned, and burst into loud
lamentations. On reaching shore they charged him with murder. He was
arrested forthwith, and committed to gaol. Ere long he was duly
arraigned, and on the oath of the boatmen who had been eye-witnesses of
his offence he was convicted without the slightest hesitation. While he
lay in gaol, however, under sentence of death, he was visited by a
native, who promised him that on the payment of a substantial sum the
drowned boatmen should be brought to life. The money was gladly paid,
and next day the charge of murder entirely broke down by the
reappearance of the missing men. It seemed that they were expert divers,
and having gone at once to the bottom they rose again at a considerable
distance from the boat, and swam ashore. Their comrades were fully aware
of the fact, and the conspiracy was formed so that the English stranger,
when in peril of his life, might be induced to pay a large ransom to
escape. It is clear from such cases as these that the police of India
have to be always on their guard against being led into traps.

Another trick which the police have to guard against is the simulation
of death by suicide. This is a very ancient imposture. Captain Bacon, in
his "First Impressions in Hindustan," describes how he saw a corpse
bearing three wounds on the chest and many marks of violence brought to
a magistrate's house, with the idea of fixing an accusation of murder on
a certain man. The magistrate, having his doubts, was about to examine
the body, when he was implored by those who carried it not to pollute it
by touch before the rites of sepulture had been performed. He did no
more, therefore, than thrust the sharp end of his billiard cue once or
twice into the side with such force that the point of the cue penetrated
between the ribs. Upon this the muscles of the supposed corpse quivered,
and there was a barely perceptible movement of the head. The natives
around were now told that life could not be yet extinct, but they
persisted in declaring that the man had been dead since cock-crow.
Whereupon, a kettle of hot water was produced and a small stream poured
upon the foot of the corpse, which there and then jumped up from the
litter and ran away at full speed! The same test was applied by a young
officer when the body of a native, who was supposed to have been
murdered by sepoys, was brought to his tent. There was no more evidence
than the existence of the corpse, but the officer was at breakfast, and
had the kettle handy. At the first touch of the scalding fluid "the
murdered remains" started up and scampered away. Boiling water, by the
way, is no doubt a generally satisfactory test of whether life is
actually extinct. But there is a better, as practised by a French doctor
in a Lyons hospital. He applied the flame of a candle for some seconds
to one digit of the hand or foot. A vesicle formed, as it will
invariably; if this vesicle contains serous fluid, there is life; if
vapour only, death has certainly supervened.

On the whole, the modern Indian police system may be said to operate
well. The police have numerous duties over and above those of the
prevention and detection of crime. A Government so paternal as that of
India finds the machinery of the police exceedingly useful in keeping in
touch with the great masses of the population. The constable is the
agent through whom the Government issues its orders or conveys its
wishes. If the people are wanted in any large numbers, such as for the
identification of bodies found, and if foul play is suspected, it is the
police who beat the drum and call them in. When supplies are needed,
such as carts, camels, bullocks, or forage, for any military expedition,
it is the police who work upon the men of the villages and gather in
what is required. When a high functionary had discovered a cure for
snake bites, it was the police who were entrusted with its distribution
through the districts most troubled with poisonous reptiles. The
particular panacea was liquid ammonia, which had to be applied at once
and in a particular way. It was not only necessary, therefore, to issue
supplies of the useful drug, but all the headmen of villages had to be
taught how to use it; this was the duty of the police. Again, when the
Government once seriously attempted to exterminate snakes, and offered a
reward for every dead reptile brought in, the machinery of the police
was at once set in motion to encourage natives to hunt up and kill the
snakes, and afterwards to distribute the rewards. When the plague of
locusts overran the length and breadth of the land, the police were sent
out to organise beaters and instruct the villagers how to destroy the
terrible pest. Another plague, that of rats, the jerboa rat, which
travels like a kangaroo by leaps and bounds and eats up everything it
meets, was to be grappled with by the police, and though they do not
seem to have been very effective in destroying the pest, it became their
business to pay out the rewards for all the vermin killed. An
interesting detail in Government methods may be mentioned in this
connection. The rats, when destroyed, were buried or burnt, but the
tails were first cut off and tied up into neat little bundles like
radishes, which were produced as vouchers for the numbers destroyed. A
police official records that the travelling police superintendents were
called upon to make entries in their diaries such as: "Visited
Bangalpore, counted 10,000 rats' tails, paid the reward, burnt the

The police have also rendered very valuable services during famines,
when their labours increase ten-and twenty-fold. Not only does crime
multiply in these dread seasons, but the force is actively employed in
helping to establish relief camps, in hunting up and bringing in the
starving population, in passing on supplies of grain from the railway
stations to the out-districts, and so forth.

Yet with all this the Indian native policeman is but indifferently paid,
much less than a soldier or other subordinate members of the public
departments. Ordinary labour even is better paid. The horsekeeper, the
gardener, the cowman is better off, even the coolie despises the
pittance of the policeman, who has no advantages but those of a remote
pension and the respect he inspires as a man clothed with a little

[Illustration: JERBOA RATS.]



     The Detective in Fiction and in Fact--Early Detection--Case of Lady
     Ivy--Thomas Chandler--Mackoull, and how he was run down by a Scots
     Solicitor--Vidocq: his Early Life, Police Services, and End--French
     Detectives generally--Amicable Relations between French and English

The detective, both professional and amateur, since Edgar Allan Poe
invented Dupin, has been a prominent personage in fiction and on the
stage. He has been made the central figure of innumerable novels and
plays, the hero, the pivot on which the plot turns. Readers ever find
him a favourite, whether he is called Hawkshaw or Captain Redwood, Grice
or Stanhope, Van Vernet or Père Tabaret, Sherlock Holmes or Monsieur
Lecocq. But imagination, however fertile, cannot outdo the reality, and
it is with the detective in the flesh that I propose to deal. I propose
to take him in the different stages of his evolution--from the thief
reformed and become a thief-taker, down to the present honourable
officer, the guardian of our lives and property, the law's chief weapon
and principal vindicator.

In times past the detection of crime was left very much to chance; but
now and again shrewd agents, both public officials and private persons,
contributed to the discovery of frauds and other misdeeds. Long ago, in
France, as I have shown, there was an organised police force which often
had resort, both for good and evil, to detective methods. Here in
England the office of constable was purely local, and his duties were
rather to make arrests in clear cases of flagrant wrong-doing than to
follow up obscure and mysterious crime. The ingenious piecing together
of clues and the following up of light and baffling scents was generally
left to the lawyers and those engaged on behalf of the parties injured
or aggrieved.


One of the first cases on record of a fraud on a very large scale
cleverly planned and not less cleverly detected was the claim raised by
a Lady Ivy, in 1684, to a large estate in Shadwell. It was based on
deeds purporting to be drawn more than a hundred years previously, in
the "2nd and 3rd Philip and Mary of 1555-6, under which deeds the lands
had been granted to Lady Ivy's ancestors." The case was tried before the
famous, or, more correctly, the infamous Judge Jeffreys, and the lawyers
opposed to Lady Ivy proved that the deed put forward had been forged. It
was discovered that the style and titles of the king and queen as they
appeared in the deed were not those used by the sovereigns at that
particular date. Always in the preambles of Acts of Parliament of 1555-6
Philip and Mary were styled "King and Queen of Naples, Princes of Spain
and Sicily," not, as in the deed, "King and Queen of Spain and both the
Sicilies." Again, in the deed Burgundy was put before Milan as a
dukedom; in the Acts of Parliament it was just the reverse. That style
did come in later, but the person drawing the deeds could not foretell
it, and as a fair inference it was urged that the deeds were a forgery.
Evidence was also adduced to show that Lady Ivy had forged other deeds,
and it was so held by Judge Jeffreys: "If you produce deeds made in such
a time when, say you, such titles were used, and they were not so used,
that sheweth your deeds are counterfeit and forged and not true deeds.
And there is _digitus Dei_, the finger of God in it, so that though the
design be deep laid and the contrivance skulk, yet truth and justice
will appear at one time or other."

Accordingly, my Lady Ivy lost her verdict, and an information for
forgery was laid against her, but with what result does not appear.


Fifty years later a painstaking lawyer in Berkshire was able to unravel
another case of fraud, which had eluded the imperfect police of the day.
It was an artful attempt to claim restitution from a certain locality
for a highway robbery said to have been committed within its boundaries:
a robbery which had never occurred.

On the 24th March, 1747, according to his own story, one Thomas
Chandler, an attorney's clerk, was travelling on foot along the high
road between London and Reading. Having passed through Maidenhead
Thicket, and while in the neighbourhood of Hare Hatch, some thirty miles
out, he was set upon by three men, bargees, who robbed him of all he
possessed, his watch and cash, the latter amounting to £960, all in
bank-notes. After the robbery they bound him and threw him into a pit by
the side of the road. He lay there some three hours, till long after
dark, he said, being unable to obtain release from "his miserable
situation," although the road was much frequented and he heard many
carriages and people passing along. At length he got out of the pit
unaided, and, still bound hand and foot, jumped rather than walked for
half a mile uphill, calling out lustily for anyone to let him loose. The
first passer-by was a gentleman, who gave him a wide berth, then a
shepherd came and cut his bonds, and at his entreaty guided him to the
constable or tything-man of the hundred of Sunning, in the county of

Here he set forth in writing the evil that had happened to him, with a
full and minute description of the thieves, and at the same time gave
notice that he would in due course sue the Hundred for the amount under
the statutes. All the formalities being observed, process was duly
served on the high constable of Sunning, and the people of the Hundred,
alarmed at the demand, which if insisted upon would be the "utter ruin
of many poor families," engaged a certain attorney, Edward Wise, of
Wokingham, to defend them.

Mr. Wise had all the qualities of a good detective: he was ingenious,
yet patient and painstaking, and he soon pieced together the facts he
had cleverly picked up about Chandler. Some of these seemed at the very
outset much against the claimant. That a man should tramp along the high
road with nearly £1,000 in his pockets was quite extraordinary; not less
so that he should not escape from the pit till after dark, or that his
bonds should have been no stronger than tape, a length of which was
found at the spot where he was untied. He seemed, moreover, to be little
concerned by his great loss. After he had given the written notices to
the constable, concerning which he was strangely well informed, having
all the statutes at his fingers' ends, as though studied beforehand, he
ordered a hot supper and a bowl at the Hare and Hounds in Hare Hatch,
where he kept up his carousals till late in the night. Nor was he in any
hurry to return to town and stop payment of the lost notes at the banks,
but started late and rode leisurely to London.

It was easy enough to trace him there. He had given his address in the
notices, and he was soon identified as the clerk of Mr. Hill, an
attorney in Clifford's Inn. It now appeared that Chandler, for a client
of his master, had negotiated a mortgage upon certain lands in the
neighbourhood of Devizes for £509, far more, as was proved, than their
value. An old mortgage was to be paid off in favour of the new, and
Chandler had set off on the day stated to complete the transaction,
carrying with him the £500 and the balance of £460 supposed to be his
own property, but how obtained was never known. His movements on the
previous day also were verified. He had dined with the mortgagee, when
the deed was executed and the money handed over in notes. These notes
were mostly for small sums, making up too bulky a parcel to be
comfortably carried under his gaiters (the safest place for them, as he
thought), and he had twice changed a portion, £440 at the Bank of
England for two notes, and again at "Sir Richard Hoare's shop" for three
notes, two of £100 and one of £200. With the whole of his money he then
started to walk ninety miles in twenty-four hours, for he was expected
next day at Devizes to release the mortgage.

Mr. Hill had kept a list of his notes in Chandler's handwriting, which
Chandler was anxious to recover when he got back, in order, as he said,
to stop payment of them at the banks. His real object was to alter the
numbers of three notes of Hoare's, all of which he wished to cash and
use, and he effected this by having a fresh list made out in which these
notes were given new and false numbers. Thus the notes with the real
numbers would not be stopped on presentation. He did it cleverly,
changing 102 to 112, 195 to 159, 196 to 190, variations so slight as to
pass unnoticed by Mr. Hill when the list as copied was returned to him.
These three notes were cashed and eventually traced back to Chandler.
Further, it was clearly proved that he had got those notes at Hoare's in
exchange for the £200 note, for that note presently came back to Hoare's
through a gentleman who had received it in part payment for a captain's
commission of dragoons, and it was then seen that it had been
originally received from Chandler.

While Mr. Wise was engaged in these inquiries the trial of Chandler's
case against the Hundred came on at Abingdon assizes in June, and a
verdict was given in his favour for £975, chiefly because Mr. Hill was
associated with the mortgage, and he was held a person of good repute.
But a point of law was reserved, for Chandler had omitted to give a full
description of the notes, as required by statute, when advertising his

But now Chandler disappeared. He thought the point of law would go
against him; that the mortgagee would press for the return of the £500
which he had recovered from the Hundred; that his master, Mr. Hill, had
now strong doubts of his good faith. The first of these fears was
verified; on argument of the point of law the Abingdon verdict was set
aside. There was good cause for Chandler's other fears also. News now
came of the great bulk of the other notes; they reached the bank from
Amsterdam through brokers named Solomons, who had bought them from one
"John Smith," a person answering to the description of Chandler, who in
signing the receipt "wrote his name as if it had been wrote with a
skewer." The indefatigable Mr. Wise presently found that Chandler had
been in Holland with a trader named Casson, and then unearthed Casson

All this time Mr. Hill was in indirect communication with Chandler,
writing letters to him by name "at Easton in Suffolk, to be left for him
at the Crown at Ardley, near Colchester, in Essex." Thither Mr. Wise
followed him, accompanied by the mortgagee, Mr. Winter, and the "Holland
trader," Mr. Casson, who was ready to identify Chandler. They reached
the Crown at Ardley, and actually saw a letter "stuck behind the plates
of the dresser," awaiting Chandler, who rode in once a fortnight, from a
distance, for "his mare seemed always to be very hard rid." There was
nothing known of a place called Easton; but Aston and Assington were
both suggested to the eastward, and in search of them Mr. Wise with his
friends rode through Ipswich as far as Southwold, and there found
Easton, "a place washed by the sea," where he halted, "being thus pretty
sure of going no farther eastward." But the scent was false, and
although they ran down a young man whom they proposed to arrest with the
assistance of "three


fellows from the Keys, who appeared to be smugglers, for they were
pretty much maimed and scarred," the person was clearly not Chandler.
So, finding they had been "running the wrong hare," they "trailed very
coolly all the way back to Ipswich."

Travelling homeward, they halted a night at Colchester, and called at an
inn, the Three Crowns, or the Three Cups, where Chandler had been seen a
few months before. Here, as a fact, after overrunning their game near
fourscore miles, "they got back to the very form," yet even now they
lost their hare. This inn was kept by Chandler himself, in partnership
with his brother-in-law, who naturally would not betray him, and
carefully concealed the fact that Chandler was at that very time in the

After this Chandler thought Colchester "a very improper place for him to
continue long in." There were writs out against him in Essex, Suffolk,
and Norfolk, so he sold off his goods and moved to another inn at
Coventry, where he set up at the sign of the Golden Dragon under the
name of John Smith. Now, still fearing arrest, he thought to buy off
Winter, the mortgagee, by repaying him something, and sent him £130. But
Winter was bitter against him, and writs were taken out for
Warwickshire. Chandler had in some way secured the protection of Lord
Willoughby de Broke; he had also made friends with the constables of
Coventry, and it was not easy to compass his arrest. But at last he was
taken and lodged in the town gaol. Two years had been occupied in this
pertinacious pursuit, prolonged by trials, arguments, journeyings to and
fro, and Mr. Wise was greatly complimented upon his zeal and presented
with a handsome testimonial.

Chandler, who was supposed to have planned the whole affair with the
idea of becoming possessed of a considerable sum in ready money, was
found guilty of perjury, and was sentenced to be put in the pillory next
market day at Reading from twelve to one, and afterwards to be
transported for seven years.

A curious feature of the trial was the identification of Chandler as
John Smith by Casson, who told how at Amsterdam he (Chandler) had
received payment for his bills partly in silver--£150 worth of ducats
and Spanish pistoles--which broke down both his pockets, so that the
witness had to get a rice-sack and hire a wheelbarrow to convey the coin
to the Delft "scout," where it was deposited in a chest and so conveyed
to England.


Detailed reference has been made in previous pages to the Bow Street
runners, to Vickery, Lavender, Sayer, Donaldson, and Townsend, whose
exploits in capturing criminals were often remarkable. None of them did
better, however, than a certain Mr. Denovan, a Scots officer of great
intelligence and unwearied patience, who was employed by the Paisley
Union Bank of Glasgow to defend it against the extraordinary pretensions
of a man who had robbed it and yet sued it for the restoration of
property which was clearly the bank's and not his. For the first and
probably the only time known in this country, an acknowledged thief was
seen contending with people in open court for property he had stolen
from them.

[Illustration: JAMES MACKOULL.

(_From a Contemporary Drawing._)]

The hero of this strange episode was one James Mackoull, a hardened and,
as we should say nowadays, an "habitual" criminal. He was one of the
most extraordinary characters that have ever appeared in the annals of
crime. His was a clear case of heredity in vice, for his mother had been
a shoplifter and low-class thief, who had married, however, a
respectable tradesman; all her children--three sons and two
daughters--had turned out badly, becoming in due course notorious
offenders. One of them, John Mackoull, was well educated, and the author
of a work entitled "The Abuses of Justice," which he brought out after
his acquittal on a charge of forgery; another brother, Ben Mackoull, was
hanged for robbery in 1786.

James Mackoull began early, and at school stole from his companions. He
studied little, but soon became an expert in the science of
self-defence, and, being active and athletic, took rank in due course as
an accomplished pugilist. His first public theft was from a cat's-meat
man, whom he robbed by throwing snuff in his eyes; while the man was
blinded, he cut the bag of coppers fastened to the barrow and bolted.
Henceforth he became a professional thief, and with two noted
associates, Bill Drake and Sam Williams, did much business on a large

One of his most remarkable feats was his robbery from the person of a
rich undertaker, known as "The Old Raven," who was fond of parading
himself in St. James's Park, London, dressed out in smart clothes and
wearing conspicuously exposed a fine gold watch set with diamonds.
Mackoull knew that on most days "The Old Raven" entered the park from
Spring Gardens at 4 p.m., so he timed himself to arrive a little
earlier. He waited till the undertaker had passed him, then pushed on in
front, when he turned round suddenly, and, clutching the watch with one
hand, knocked his victim's hat over his eyes with the other. Fearing
detection for this theft, which caused considerable noise, Mackoull
thought it prudent to go to sea. He entered the Royal Navy, and served
for two years on board H.M.S. _Apollo_ as an officer's servant. His
conduct was exemplary, and he was presently transferred to H.M.S.
_Centurion_, on which ship he rose to be purser's steward. He was
discharged with a good character after nine years' service afloat, and
returned to London about 1785 with a considerable sum of money, the
accumulations of prize-money and pay.

The moment he landed he resumed his evil courses. Having rapidly wasted
his substance in the ring, in the cockpit, and at the gaming-table, he
devoted himself with great success to picking pockets. He gave himself
out as the captain of a West Indiaman, and being much improved in
appearance, having a genteel address and fluent speech, he was well
received in a certain class of society. At the end of a debauch he
generally managed to clear out the company. He was an adept in what is
known as "hocussing," and this served him well in despoiling his
companions of their purses and valuables.

It was at this time that he gained the _sobriquet_ of the "Heathen
Philosopher" among his associates. He owed it to a trick played upon a
master baker, whom he encountered at an election at Brentford. This
worthy soul affected to be learned in astronomy, and

[Illustration: Pit Ticket


Mackoull approached him, courteously advising him to have a look at the
strange "alternating star" to be seen that night in the sky. As soon as
the baker was placed to view the phenomenon, Mackoull deftly relieved
him of his pocket-book, which he knew to be well lined. Then, as the
baker could not see the star properly and went home to use his
telescope, Mackoull promptly decamped, returning to town in a

Now Mackoull married a lodging-house keeper, and went into the business
of "receiving." At first he stored his stolen goods in his mother's
house, but as this became insecure he devised a receptacle in his own.
He chose for the purpose a recess where had formerly been a window, but
which had been blocked up to save the window-tax. It was on that account
called "Pitt's picture." But the hiding-place was discovered, and as
Mackoull was "wanted," he escaped to the Continent, where he frequented
the German gambling-tables and learnt the language. He visited Hamburg,
Leipsic, Rotterdam, and is said to have often played billiards with the
Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, whom he relieved of all his
superfluous cash.

Again he had to fly, but being afraid to return to London he travelled
north, and landed at Leith in 1805. Thence he went to Edinburgh, and
lodged in the Canongate, devoting himself to his old pursuits at
taverns, "calling himself a Hamburg merchant and making many friends." A
theft at the theatre was nearly fatal to him. He was caught by a police
officer in the act of picking a gentleman's pocket, and, after running
for his life, was at last overtaken. Having no assistance at hand, the
"town officer" struck him on the head with his "batoon." Mackoull fell
with a deep groan, and the officer, fearing he had killed him, made off.
As the result of this encounter Mackoull was long laid up, and he
carried the scar on his forehead to his dying day.

As time passed he grew more daring and more truculent, and it is
believed he was the author of the well-known murder of Begbie, the
porter of the British Linen Company Bank--a crime never brought home to
him, however, the murder remaining a mystery to the last. This victim,
returning from Leith carrying a large parcel of bank-notes, was stabbed
in the back at the entrance of Tweeddale's Court. Several persons were
suspected, apprehended, and discharged for want of evidence. Yet the
most active measures were taken to detect the crime. "Hue-and-cry"
bills were thrown off during the night, and despatched next morning by
the mail-coaches to all parts of the country. It was stated in this
notice that "the murder was committed with a force and dexterity more
resembling that of a foreign assassin than an inhabitant of this
country. The blow was directly to the heart, and the unfortunate man
bled to death in a few minutes." Through Mr. Denovan's investigations
many facts were obtained to implicate Mackoull, but the proof of his
guilt was still insufficient.

One of the most suspicious facts against him was that later on he was
often seen in the Belle Vue grounds, and here, in an old wall, many of
the notes stolen from the murdered porter were presently discovered.
They were those of large value, which the perpetrator of the crime would
find it difficult to pass. Reports that they had been thus found, and in
this particular wall, were in circulation some three weeks before they
were actually unearthed, and it is believed the story was purposely put
about to lead to their recovery. It is a curious fact that the
stonemason who came upon the notes in pulling down the wall resided
close to the spot where the murder had been committed. But for the good
luck that he was able to prove clearly that he was not in Edinburgh at
the time of the murder, he might have been added to the sufficiently
long list of victims of circumstantial evidence.

Mackoull at this time passed to and fro between Edinburgh and Dublin,
and was popular in both capitals, a pleasant companion, ever ready to
drink and gamble and join in any debauchery. He became very corpulent,
and it was said of him that he did not care how he was jostled in a
crowd. This was necessary as a matter of business sometimes, but one
night at the Edinburgh theatre he got into trouble. Incledon, the famous
vocalist, was singing to full houses, and Mackoull in the crowded lobby
picked a gentleman's pocket. He was caught in the act, but escaped for a
time; then was seized after a hot pursuit and searched, but with no
result, for he had dropped his booty in the race. They cast him into the
Tolbooth, but he was released for want of proof after nine months'
detention. As the story is told, the gentleman robbed was much
displeased at Mackoull's release and complained of this failure of
justice. The judge before whom the thief had been arraigned admitted
that he ought to have been hanged. "He went to the play-house to steal
and not to hear music; and he gave a strong proof of this, Mr. P., when
he preferred _your_ notes to Mr. Incledon's."

Mackoull, retiring south after his liberation, lay low for a time, but
he made one expedition to Scotland for the purpose of passing forged
notes, when he was again arrested, but again evaded the law. Another
enterprise in Chester failed; the luck was against him for the moment.
But now, having sought out efficient confederates, he laid all his plans
for the robbery of some one or other of the great Scottish banks. He was
well equipped for the job, had secured the best men and the finest


He was assisted by two confederates, French and Huffey White, the latter
a convict at the hulks, whose escape Mackoull had compassed on purpose.
They broke into the Paisley Bank at Glasgow on Sunday night, July 14,
1811, with keys carefully fitted long in advance, and soon ransacked the
safe and drawers, securing in gold and notes something like £20,000. Of
course, they left Glasgow at once, travelling full speed in a
postchaise and four, first to Edinburgh and then _viâ_ Haddington and
Newcastle southward to London. In the division of the spoil which now
took place Mackoull contrived to keep the lion's share. White was
apprehended, and to save his life a certain sum was surrendered to the
bank; but some of the money, as I have said elsewhere,[18] seems to have
stuck to the fingers of Sayer, the Bow Street officer who had negotiated
between Mackoull and the bank. Mackoull himself had retained about

In 1812, after a supposed visit to the West Indies, he reappeared in
London, where he was arrested for breach of faith with the bank and sent
to Glasgow for trial. He got off by a promise of further restitution,
and because the bank was unable at that time to prove his complicity in
the burglary. An agent who had handed over £1,000 on his account, was
then sued by Mackoull for acting without proper authority, and was
obliged to refund a great part of the money. Nothing could exceed his
effrontery. He traded openly as a bill broker in Scotland under the name
of James Martin; buying the bills with the stolen notes and having
sometimes as much as £2,000 on deposit in another bank. At last he was
arrested, and a number of notes and drafts were seized with him. He was
presently discharged, but the notes were impounded, and by-and-by he
began a suit to recover "his property"--the proceeds really of his theft
from the bank. His demeanour in court was most impudent. Crowds filled
the court when he gave his evidence, which he did with the utmost
effrontery, posing always as an innocent and much-injured man.

It was incumbent upon the bank to end this disgraceful parody of legal
proceedings. Either they must prove Mackoull's guilt or lose their
action--an action brought, it must be remembered, by a public depredator
against a respectable banking company for daring to retain a part of the
property of which he had robbed them. In this difficulty they appealed
to Mr. Denovan, well known as an officer and agent of the Scottish
courts, and sent him to collect evidence showing that Mackoull was
implicated in the original robbery in 1811.

Denovan left Edinburgh on January 8, 1820, meaning to follow the exact
route of the fugitives to the south. All along his road he came upon
traces of them in the "post books" or in the memory of innkeepers,
waiters, and ostlers. He passed through Dunbar, Berwick, and Belford,
pausing at Belford to hunt up a certain George Johnson who was said to
be able to identify Mackoull. Johnson had been a waiter at the Talbot
Inn, Darlington, in 1811, but was now gone--to what place his parents,
who lived in Belford, could not say. "Observing, however, that there was
a church behind the inn," writes Mr. Denovan, "a thought struck me I
might hear something in the churchyard on Sunday morning;" and he was
rewarded with the address of Thomas Johnson, a brother of George's, "a
pedlar or travelling merchant." "I immediately set forth in a postchaise
and found Thomas Johnson, who gave me news of George. He was still
alive, and was a waiter either at the Bay Horse in Leeds or somewhere in
Tadcaster, or at a small inn at Spittal-on-the-Moor, in Westmorland, but
his father-in-law, Thomas Cockburn, of York, would certainly know."

Pushing on, Denovan heard of his men at Alnwick. A barber there had
shaved them. "I was anxious to see the barber, but found he had put an
end to his existence some years ago." At Morpeth the inn at which they
had stopped was shut up. At Newcastle the posting book was lost, and
when found in the bar of the Crown and Thistle was "so mutilated as to
be useless." But at the Queen's Head, Durham, there was an entry,
"Chaise and four to Darlington, Will and Will." The second "Will" was
still alive, and remembered Mackoull as the oldest of the party, a
"stiff red-faced man," the usual description given of him. The landlady
here, Mrs. Jane Escott, remembered three men arriving in a chaise who
said they were pushing on to London with a quantity of Scottish
bank-notes. At the Talbot Inn, Darlington, where George Johnson had
lived, the scent failed till Denovan found him at another inn, the
King's Head.

His evidence was most valuable, and he willingly agreed to give it in
court at Edinburgh. He had seen the three men at Durham, the oldest, "a
stiff, stout man with a red face, seemed to take the management, and
paid the postboys their hire." He had offered a £20 Scottish note in
payment for two pints of sherry and some biscuits, but there was not
change enough in the house, and White was asked for smaller money, when
he took out his pocket-book stuffed full of bank notes, all too large,
so the first note was changed by Johnson at the Darlington bank.
Johnson was sure he would know the "stiff man" again amongst a hundred
others in any dress.

There was no further trace now till Denovan got to the White Hart,
Welwyn, where the fugitives had taken the light post-coach. At Welwyn,
too, they had sent off a portmanteau to a certain address, and this
portmanteau was afterwards recovered with the address in Mackoull's
hand. At Welwyn also Mr. Denovan heard of one Cunnington who had been a
waiter at the inn in 1811, but had left in 1813 for London, and who was
said to know something of the matter. The search for this Cunnington was
the next business, and Mr. Denovan pushed on to London hoping to find
him there. "In company with a private friend I went up and down Holborn
inquiring for him at every baker's, grocer's, or public house," but
heard nothing. The same at the coaching offices, until at last a guard
who knew Cunnington said he was in Brighton. But the man had left
Brighton, first for Horsham, then for Margate, and had then gone back to
London, where Mr. Denovan ran him down at last as a patient in the
Middlesex Hospital.

Cunnington was quite as important a witness as Johnson. He declared he
should know Mackoull among a thousand. He had seen the three men
counting over notes at the White Hart; Mackoull did not seem to be a
proper companion for the two; he took the lead, and was the only one who
used pen, ink, and paper. Cunnington expressed his willingness to go to
Edinburgh if his health permitted.

Since Denovan's arrival in London he had received but little assistance
at Bow Street. The runners were irritated at the unorthodox way in which
the case had been managed. Sayer, who had been concerned in the
restitution, flatly refused to have anything to do with the business, or
to go to Edinburgh to give evidence. This was presently explained by
another runner, the famous Townsend, who hinted that Sayer's hands were
not clean, and that he was on very friendly terms with Mackoull's wife,
a lady of questionable character, who was living in comfort on some of
her husband's ill-gotten gains. Indeed, Sayer's conduct had caused a
serious quarrel between him and his colleagues, Lavender, Vickery, and
Harry Adkins, because he had deceived and forestalled them. Denovan was,
however, on intimate terms with Lavender, and succeeded in persuading
him to assist, and through him he came upon the portmanteau sent from
Welwyn, which had been seized at the time of Huffey White's arrest.
Huffey had been taken in the house of one Scoltop, a blacksmith in the
Tottenham Court Road, the portmanteau and a box of skeleton keys being
also seized. Both were now found in a back closet in the office at Bow
Street, "under a singular collection of rubbish, and were actually
covered by Williams's bloody jacket, and the maul and ripping iron with
which the man Williamson had been murdered in Ratcliff Highway." The
portmanteau contained many papers and notes damaging to Mackoull, and in
the box were housebreaking implements, punches, files, and various
"dubs" and "skrews," as well as two handkerchiefs of fawn colour, with a
broad border, such as the three thieves often wore when in their
lodgings in Glasgow immediately before the robbery.

How Mr. Denovan found and won over Scoltop is a chief feather in his
cap. His success astonished even the oldest officers in Bow Street.
Scoltop was the friend and associate of burglars, and constantly engaged
in manufacturing implements for them. He had long been a friend of
Mackoull's and had made tools for him, among them those used for the
robbing of the Paisley Union Bank, a _coup_ prepared long beforehand, as
we have seen. The first set of keys supplied had been tried on the bank
locks and found useless, so that Scoltop had furnished others and sent
them down by mail. These also were ineffective, as the bank had "simple
old-fashioned locks," and Mackoull came back from Glasgow, bringing with
him "a wooden model of the key hole and pike of the locks," which
enabled Scoltop to complete his job easily. "I wonder," said Scoltop to
Mr. Denovan, "that the bank could have trusted so much money under such
very simple things." Scoltop would not allow any of this evidence to be
set down in writing, but he agreed to go down to Edinburgh and give it
in court, and to swear also to receiving the portmanteau addressed in
the handwriting of Mackoull.

But Denovan's greatest triumph was with Mrs. Mackoull. She kept a house
furnished in an elegant manner, but was not a very reputable person.
"She was extremely shy at first, and as if by chance, but to show that
she was prepared for anything, she lifted up one of the cushions on her
settee, displaying a pair of horse pistols that lay below," on which he
produced a double-barrelled pistol and a card bearing the address
"Public Office, Bow Street." Then she gave him her hand and said, "We
understand each other." But still she was very reticent, acting, as Mr.
Denovan was firmly convinced, under the advice of the not incorruptible
Sayer. She was afraid she would be called upon to make a restitution of
that part of the booty that had gone her way. Denovan strongly suspected
that she had received a large sum from her husband and had refused to
give it back to him--"the real cause of their misunderstanding," which
was, indeed, so serious that he had no great difficulty in persuading
her also to give evidence at Edinburgh.

CARD" (p. 346).]

Such was the result of an inquiry that scarcely occupied a month. It was
so complete that the celebrated Lord Cockburn, who was at that time
counsel for the Bank, declared "nothing could exceed Denovan's skill,
and that the investigation had the great merit of being amply sustained
by evidence in all its important parts." When the trial of the cause
came on in February, and Denovan appeared in court with all the
principal witnesses, Johnson, Cunnington, Scoltop, and Mrs. Mackoull,
the defendant--it was only a civil suit--was unable to conceal his
emotion, and fainted away. This was, practically, the throwing up of the
sponge. Soon afterwards he was indicted for the robbery of the bank, and
on conviction sentenced to death. He was greatly cast down at first, but
soon recovered his spirits, and while awaiting execution received a
number of visitors in the condemned cell. Among them was his wife, who
provided him with the means of purchasing every luxury. She also applied
for and obtained a reprieve for him. But though he might escape the
gallows, he could not evade death. Within a couple of months of his
sentence he fell into imbecility, his hitherto jet-black hair grew
white, and his physical faculties failed him. Before the year was ended
he had gone to his account.


The first regular organisation of detective police may be said to have
been created by Vidocq, the famous French thief, who, having turned his
own coat, found his best assistants in other converted criminals.
Vidocq's personal reminiscences have been read all the world over, and
need hardly be recounted here. It was at the end of a long career of
crime, of warfare with justice, in which he had been perpetually
worsted, that he elected to go over to the other side. He would cease to
be the hare, and would, if permitted, in future hunt with the hounds. So
he offered his services to the authorities, who at first bluntly refused
them. M. Henri, the functionary at the head of the criminal department
of the Prefecture, sent him about his business without even asking his

This was in 1809, during the ministry of Fouché. Vidocq, rebuffed,
joined a band of coiners, who betrayed him to the police, and he was
arrested, nearly naked, on the roof as he was trying to escape. He was
taken before M. Henri, whom he reminded of his application and renewed
his offers, which were now accepted, but coldly and distrustfully. The
only condition he had made was that he should not be relegated to the
galleys, but held in any


(_From the Engraving by Mlle. Coignet._)]

Parisian prison the authorities might choose. So he was committed to La
Force, and the entry appears on the registry of that prison that he was
nominally sentenced to eight years in chains; it was part of his compact
that he should associate freely with other prisoners and secretly inform
the police of all that was going on. He betrayed a number of his
unsuspecting companions, and seems to have been very proud of his
treacherous achievements. No prisoner had the slightest suspicion that
he was a police spy, nor had any of the officials, except the
gate-keeper. In this way he earned the gratitude of the authorities, who
thought he might be more useful at large. In order to give a plausible
explanation of his release, it was arranged that he should be sent from
the prison of La Force to Bicêtre and permitted to escape by the way.
Vidocq has given his own account of his escape: "I was fetched from La
Force and taken off with the most rigorous precaution, handcuffed, and
lodged in the prison van; but I was let out on the road." The report of
this daring escape, as it was supposed, was the talk of all Paris, and
the cause of great rejoicing in criminal circles, where Vidocq's health
was drunk with many wishes for his continued good fortune.

Vidocq made excellent use of his freedom. He entered freely into all the
low haunts of the city, and was received with absolute confidence by
every miscreant abroad. Through him, although he kept carefully in the
background, innumerable arrests were made; one of the most important was
that of the head of a gang of robbers named Guenvive, whose acquaintance
he made at a _cabaret_, where they exchanged some curious confidences.
Guenvive was very anxious to put him on his guard against "that villain
Vidocq," who had turned traitor to his old friends. But Guenvive assured
Vidocq that he knew him intimately and there was nothing to be feared
while he was by. Together they went to attack Vidocq, each carrying
handkerchiefs loaded with two-sous pieces, and watched for him at his
front door. For obvious reasons Vidocq did not come out, but his ready
concurrence in the scheme made him Guenvive's most intimate friend. The
robber was willing to enrol Vidocq in his band, and proposed that he
should join in a grand affair in the Rue Cassette. Vidocq agreed, but
took no part in the actual robbery on the pretence that he could not
safely be out in the streets, as he had no papers. When the party,
having successfully accomplished their _coup_, carried their plunder
home to Guenvive's quarters, they were surprised by a visit of the
police, during which Vidocq, who was present, concealed himself under
the bed. The end of this business was the conviction of the robbers and
their condemnation to _travaux forcés_, but they appear to have
succeeded in discovering how and by whom they had been betrayed.

Vidocq brought about another important arrest in the person of Fossard,
a notorious criminal, who was to become yet more famous by his
celebrated theft of medals from the Bibliothèque Royale. Fossard was a
man of athletic proportions and desperately brave; he had escaped from
the Bagne of Brest and was supposed to be prepared to go any lengths
rather than return there; he was always armed to the teeth, and swore he
would blow out the brains of anyone who attempted to take him. He lived
somewhere near the Rue Poissonnière; the neighbourhood was known, but
not the house or the floor; the windows were said to have yellow silk
blinds, but many other windows had the same; another indication was that
Fossard's servant was a little humpbacked woman, who also worked as a
milliner. Vidocq found the hunchback, but not her master, who had moved
into another residence over a wineshop at the corner of the Rue Duphot
and the Rue St. Honoré. He at once assumed the disguise of a
charcoal-seller, and verified the lodging, but waited for an opportunity
to take the criminal. Although he was armed and no coward, he realised
that the only safe way to secure Fossard would be in his bed.

[Illustration: THE BICÊTRE IN 1710.

(_After Gueroult._)]

Vidocq now took the tavern-keeper into his confidence, warned him that
he had under his roof a very dangerous robber, and that this lodger was
only waiting a favourable chance to rob his till. The first night that
the receipts had been good the ruffian would certainly lay hands upon
the money. The tavern-keeper was only too glad to accept the assistance
of the police, and promised to admit them whenever required. One night,
when Fossard had returned home early and gone to bed, Vidocq and his
comrades were let in during the small hours, and the following trick was
arranged. The tavern-keeper had with him a little nephew, a child of
ten, precocious and ready to earn an honest penny. Vidocq easily taught
him a little tale. The child was to go upstairs to Fossard's door in the
early morning, and ask Fossard's wife for some eau-de-cologne, saying
his aunt was unwell. The child played his part well; he went up, closely
followed by the police in stockinged feet; he knocked, gave his message,
the door was opened to him, and in rushed the officers, who secured
Fossard before he was well awake.

In these later days of the First Empire the police, as we have seen,
were more actively engaged in political espionage than in the detection
of crime, and Paris was very much at the mercy of criminals. There were
whole quarters given up to malefactors--places, particularly beyond the
Barrier, which offered a safe retreat to convicts, thieves, the whole
fraternity of crime, into which no police-officer was bold enough to
enter. Vidocq volunteered to clear out at least one of them, a tavern
kept by a certain Desnoyez, always a very favourite and crowded resort.
Accompanied by a couple of police officers and eight gendarmes, he
started off to execute a job for which his superiors declared that he
needed a battalion at least. But on reaching the tavern he walked
straight into the salon, where a Barrier ball was in progress, stopped
the music, and coolly looked around. Loud cries were raised of "Turn him
out!" but Vidocq remained imperturbable, and exhibiting his warrant,
ordered the place to be cleared. His firm aspect imposed upon even the
most threatening, and the whole company filed out one by one past
Vidocq, who stationed himself at the door. Whenever he recognised any
man as a person wanted or a dangerous criminal, he marked his back
adroitly with a piece of white chalk as a sign that he should be made
prisoner outside. This was effected by the gendarmes, who handcuffed
each in turn, and added him to a long chain of

[Illustration: VIDOCQ STOPS THE MUSIC (p. 352).]

prisoners, who were eventually conducted in triumph to the Prefecture.

Vidocq's successes gained him a very distinct reputation in Paris; he
had undoubtedly diminished crime--at least he had reduced the number of
notorious criminals who openly defied justice; it was decided,
therefore, to give him larger powers, and in 1817 he was authorised to
establish a regular body of detectives, the first "Brigade de Sûreté,"
which was composed of a certain number of agents devoted entirely to the
detection of crime. They were no more than four in number at first, but
the brigade was successively increased to six, twelve, twenty, and at
last to twenty-eight. In the very first year, between January and
December, 1817, Vidocq had only twelve assistants; yet among them they
effected 772 arrests, many of them of the most important character.
Fifteen of their captives were murderers, a hundred and eight were
burglars, five were addicted to robbery with violence, and there were
some two hundred and fifty thieves of other descriptions. Such good work
soon gained Vidocq detractors, and the old, official, clean-handed
police, not unnaturally jealous, charged him with actually preparing
crime in order that he might detect it. The police authorities were
privately informed by these other employees that Vidocq abused his
position disgracefully, and carried on widespread depredation on his own
account. In reply they were told that they could not be very skilful, or
they would have caught him in the act. Having failed to implicate Vidocq
himself, they fell upon his assistants, most of them ex-thieves, who
they declared now carried on their old trade with impunity. Vidocq soon
heard of these accusations, and, to give a practical denial of the
charge, ordered all his people invariably to wear gloves. To appear
without them, he declared, would be visited with instant dismissal. The
significance of this regulation lay in the fact that a pocket can only
be picked by a bare hand.

Certainly Vidocq and his men were neither idle nor expensive to
maintain; their hours of duty were often eighteen out of the
twenty-four; sometimes they were employed for days together without a
break. The chief himself was incessantly active; no one could say how he
lived or when he slept. Whenever he was wanted he was found dressed and
ready, with a clean-shaven face like an actor, so that he might assume
any disguise--wigs, whiskers, or moustaches of any length or colour;
sometimes, it is said that he changed his costume ten times a day. He
was a man of extraordinarily vigorous physique, strong and squarely
built, with very broad shoulders; he had fair hair, which early turned
grey, a large thick nose, blue eyes, and a constant smile on his lips.
He always appeared well-dressed, except when in disguise, and was
followed everywhere he went, but at a slight distance, by a cabriolet,
driven by a servant on whom he could rely. He always went armed with
pistols and a long knife or dagger. His worst points were his
boastfulness and his insupportable conceit.

M. Canler, afterwards chief of the detective police, tells an amusing
story in his Memoirs of how Vidocq was fooled by one of his precious
assistants. In choosing between candidates, the old thief sought the
boldest and most impudent. One day a man he did not know, Jacquin,
offered himself, and Vidocq, to try him, sent him to buy a couple of
fowls in the market. Jacquin presently brought back the fowls and also
the ten francs Vidocq had given him to pay for them. He was asked how he
had managed. It was simple enough. He had gone into the market carrying
a heavy hod on his shoulder, and, when he had bargained for the fowls,
he asked the market woman to place them for him on the top of the stones
on the hod. While she obliged him, he picked her pocket of the ten
francs he had paid her. Jacquin acted the whole affair before Vidocq,
whom he treated just as he had treated the owner of the fowls. When the
_séance_ was over, he had robbed Vidocq of his gold watch and chain.

After ten years of active work Vidocq resigned his post. He was at cross
purposes, it was said, with his superiors; M. Delavau, the new prefect,
had no sympathy with him, and was so much under priestly influence as to
abhor Vidocq, who perhaps foresaw that he had better withdraw before he
was dismissed. But the real reason was that he had feathered his nest
well, and was in possession of sufficient capital to start an industrial
enterprise--the manufacture of paper boxes. To this he presently added a
_bureau de renseignements_, the forerunner of our modern private inquiry
office, for which, from his abundant and varied experience, he was
peculiarly well fitted. He soon possessed a wide _clientèle_, and had as
many as 8,000 cases registered in his office. At the same time his brain
was busy with practical inventions, such as a burglar-proof door and a
safety paper--one that could not be imitated and used for false

His private inquiry business prospered greatly, but got him into serious
trouble. There seems to have been no reason to charge him with
dishonesty, yet he was arrested for fraud and "abuse of confidence" in
some two hundred instances; he was mixed up in some shady transactions,
among them money-lending and bill-discounting. He was also accused of
tampering with certain employees in the War Office, and his papers were
seized by the police. Some idea of the extent of his business may be
gathered from the description of his offices, which were extensive,
sumptuously furnished, and organised into first, second, and third
divisions, like a great department of State, each served by a large
staff of clerks. A little groom in livery, with buttons bearing Vidocq's
monogram, ushered the visitor into his private cabinet, where the great
"Intermediary," as he called himself, sat at his desk, surrounded by
fine pictures (for one of which, it was said, he had refused £2,800) and
many other signs of luxury and good taste.

Nothing came of this arrest, which Vidocq took quite as a joke, although
he was detained in the Conciergerie for three months and his business
suffered. Yet, afterwards, the police would not leave him alone. Old
animosities had never disappeared, and they were revived when Vidocq
occasionally turned his hand to his old work and caught someone whom the
regular police could not find. He had started a sort of "trade
protection society," by which, on payment of a small annual fee, any
shopkeeper or business man could obtain particulars concerning the
solvency of new clients. The number of subscribers soon exceeded 8,000,
and Vidocq, in one of his published reports, fixed the amount he had
saved his customers at several thousands of pounds. A fresh storm burst
over him when he unmasked and procured the arrest of a long-firm
swindler, before the police knew anything of the case.

Once more he was arrested, in 1842; his papers were impounded, there
were rumours of tremendous disclosures, family scandals, crimes
suppressed--all manner of villainies. No doubt he had made himself the
"intermediary" in matters not quite savoury, but the worst things
against him were an unauthorised arrest and a traffic in decorations
very much on the Grévy-Wilson lines of later days. The prejudice against
him must have been strong, and the case


ended in a sentence of eight years' imprisonment, which was, however,
reversed on appeal. He was much impoverished by his lawsuits, and one of
his last proceedings was to appear before a London audience dressed,
first as a French convict in chains, then in the various disguises he
had used in following up malefactors. Although his lecture was in
French, he seems to have attracted large audiences at the Cosmorama. Sir
Francis Burdett was a great patron and supporter of Vidocq, and was in
the habit, whenever he visited Paris, of inviting the old thief-taker
to dine with him at the Trois Frères Restaurant in the Palais Royal.
Vidocq died in penury in 1857 at a very advanced age.

Vidocq's mantle, after his resignation of his official post, fell upon
one of his own young men, for the fallacious idea still held that to
discover thieves it was necessary to have been a thief. The choice fell
upon one Coco-Latour, who had been a robber of the housebreaking class,
and was much esteemed for his enterprise in that particular branch of
crime. He now took over Vidocq's offices and staff, with much the same
results. Arrests were constantly made, numbers of depredators were
brought to justice, but again and again in court there were some
discreditable scenes; fierce recriminations between the dock and the
witness-box, little to choose between the accused criminal and the man
who had captured him. Public feeling was revolted by these exhibitions,
and at last the authorities resolved to abolish the system. M. Gisquet,
who was prefect of police, broke up Coco-Latour's band of ex-brigands
and ordered that in future the work should be done by persons of
unblemished character. Any who had been once convicted were declared
ineligible. New and respectable offices were installed under the wing of
the Prefecture, replacing the old dens in low streets which had been no
better than thieves' haunts infested by the worst characters.

From 1832, when this salutary change took effect, until the present day
the French detective has won well-deserved credit as an honourable,
faithful public servant, generally with natural aptitude, trained and
developed by advice and example. "A man does not become a detective by
chance; he must be born to it"; he must have the instinct, the _flair_,
the natural taste for the business--qualities which carry him on to
success through many disheartening disappointments and seeming defeats.
The best traditions of the Paris Prefecture have been worthily
maintained by such men as Canler, Claude, Macé, Goron, and Cochefert.
Their services have been conspicuous, their methods good, and they are
backed by useful, if arbitrary, powers, such as the right to detain and
interrogate suspected persons, which our police, under the jealous eye
of the law, have never possessed. This might seem to give the French
police the advantage as regards results, yet it is the fact that, with
all their limitations, the English police can compare favourably with
that of our French neighbours, and, as has been said, if we have at
times to reproach our servants with failure, there are also many
undetected crimes, cases "classed," or put by as hopeless, in France.


A few stories may be inserted here illustrating the more prominent
traits of the French detectives, their patience, courage promptitude,
and ingenuity. No pains are too great to take; a clue is followed up at
all costs and all hazards. The French detective is equal to any labours,
any hardships, any emergency, any dangers. The words "two pounds of
butter," written on a scrap of paper found on the theatre of a great
crime, led Canler and his officers to visit every butterman's shop in
Paris, till at last the man who had sold and the criminal who had bought
the butter were found. In the same way a knife picked up was shown to
every cutler until it was identified and the purchaser traced. A
murdered man had been seen in company with another the day before the
crime; the latter was described to the police, who got on his track
within twenty-four hours, checked the employment of his time, and found
the tailor who had sold him his clothes; within another day his lodging
was known, on the fourth he was arrested and the crime brought home to
him. Two men on the watch for a criminal held on three days and nights
out of doors, in December, almost without food, and, to justify their
presence in the high road, pretended to be navvies working at repairs.
Four detectives, in pursuit of five murderers, divided the business
among them: one played the flute at a hall often visited by their men,
another sold pencils in the street, a third worked in brickfields
frequented by their quarry, a fourth kept the men wanted constantly in


Another detective disguised himself as a floor polisher, simply to get
on friendly terms with a man of the same calling, who was an assassin.
The disguises assumed are various and surprising, and this may be taken
as fact in spite of statements to the contrary. A detective has been
seen in a blue blouse distributing leaflets in the street, and has been
recognised (by a friend) in correct evening dress at a diplomatic
reception. There was once attached to the Prefecture a regular wardrobe
of all sorts of costumes, and a dressing-room as in a theatre, with wigs
and all facilities for "making up." This is now left to the individual
himself, but not the less does he disguise. So sedulous are these
detectives in playing assumed parts, that it is told of two who were
employed in a high-class case, one as master, the other as valet, that
after the job was done, the master had so identified himself with his
part as to check his comrade afterwards for his familiarity in
addressing him!


French detectives often show great tact and promptitude. One of them one
day recognised a face without being able to put a name to it, and
followed his man into a 'bus. "Don't arrest me here," said the other.
"I'll come with you quietly when we leave the omnibus." It proved to be
a prisoner who had escaped that very morning from the _dépôt_ of the
Prefecture, and whom the police officer had only seen for a moment in
the passage. Perpetual suspicion becomes second nature with the
detective; he has to be constantly on the alert, his imagination active;
he must readily invent tricks and dodges when the occasion demands.
There is a positive order that an arrest must be made quietly, if
possible unobserved, and not in any café, theatre, or public place. This
obliges him to have recourse to artifice to entrap his prey.
Fortunately, most criminals are simplicity itself, and readily give
themselves away. It is enough to send a message for the man wanted, and
he will appear at the wineshop round the corner, bringing, say, his
tools to do some imaginary job. But courage is also a quality constantly
shown. It was a French detective who shared the cell with the infamous
Troppmann, and got him to confess the crime when off his guard. The
murderer would certainly have tried to destroy his companion on the
slightest suspicion of his real character.

It is satisfactory to know that very amicable relations exist between
London and Paris detectives, and that they are at all times willing to
assist each other. I have heard that the French greatly admire the
completeness of our Metropolitan Police machinery, its extensive
ramifications, the "informations" or budget of facts and police
circumstances issued four times daily from Scotland Yard, and the
facility with which news is circulated and action started in all--even
in the most remote--parts. Our people have made many famous captures for
the French: François, to wit, and other anarchists; Arton, the Panama
scapegoat, and many more. Not long ago the French police were deeply
anxious to know the exact whereabouts of a certain individual, and sent
over his photograph and description by a trusted agent for distribution
among our police divisions. It so happened--a little aided by good
fortune, perhaps--that the French agent was enabled to put his hand on
the man he wanted the very first afternoon of the search. Maxime du Camp
tells a story of a visit paid to the head of the French police by three
Englishmen, two of them jewellers, the third a London detective, who
were in hot pursuit of an employee who had "looted" the jewellers' shop.
Directly they had told their story the French official quietly said, "I
know all about it; wait one moment." A message was sent downstairs to
the prison cells below, and the thief in person was brought up. Then the
jewel boxes with their contents were produced, and one of the jewellers,
overcome with joy, fainted away on the spot. The affair seemed
miraculous, and yet it was perfectly simple. Information had reached the
French police that a young Englishman, but just arrived in Paris, and
staying at one of the best hotels, had pawned five pieces of valuable
jewellery at the Mont de Piété, the great public pawnshop, and out of
curiosity they paid him a domiciliary visit. He was found in his room
surrounded with portmanteaux crammed full of gems, and was detained
pending inquiry.




     English Detectives--Early Prejudices against them Lived Down--The
     late Mr. Williamson--Inspector Melville--Sir C. Howard Vincent--Dr.
     Anderson--Mr. Macnaughten--Mr. McWilliam and the Detectives of the
     City Police--A Country Detective's Experiences--Allan Pinkerton's
     first Essay in Detection--The Private Inquiry Agent and the Lengths
     to which he will go.

Although the old Bow Street runner either retired from business or set
up what we should now call private inquiry offices, the new organisation
did not include any members specially devoted to the detection of crime.
The want of them caused much inconvenience, and after an existence of
fifteen years the Metropolitan Police was strengthened by the employment
of a few constables in plain clothes, charged with the particular duty
of, so to speak, secretly safeguarding the public. The plan was first
adopted by Sir James Graham, when Home Secretary, and only tentatively,
for the old distrust and suspicion of secret spies and underhand police
processes lingered. There was something unpleasant, people said, in the
idea of a disguised police: personal freedom was in danger; and the
system was therefore tried on a very small scale.[19] No more than a
round dozen were appointed at first--three inspectors and nine
sergeants, but very shortly six constables were added as "auxiliaries,"
and gradually the total became 108, though this was only a small
proportion of the total 6,000 which then made up the whole force.

The real intention and use of the "plain clothes" police was that they
should be ever on the alert, ever at the heels of wrong-doers, and ready
to follow up clues or track down criminals unperceived. They quickly
overcame the early prejudice against them, and began by their
substantial services to win popular esteem. Charles Dickens may be said
to have discovered the modern detective. His papers in _Household Words_
were a revelation to the public, and the life portraits he drew of some
of the most notable men employed in this comparatively new branch of
criminal pursuit did much to turn suspicion into admiration.


A few words may fitly find place here concerning some of our later
developments of this most useful and not always sufficiently appreciated
class. I should be glad to do justice to the memory of one who spent a
lifetime at Scotland Yard, and was long the very centre and heart of the
detective department--the late Mr. Williamson. Starting as a private
constable and ending as chief constable, he was, from first to last, one
of the most loyal, intelligent, and indefatigable of the many valuable
public servants who have deserved well of their fellow-citizens. Yet to
the outside world he was probably little more than a name through all
his long years of arduous and uncompromising service. Few but the
initiated recognised the redoubtable detective in this quiet,
unpretending, middle-aged man, who walked leisurely along Whitehall,
balancing a hat that was a little large for him loosely on his head, and
often with a sprig of a leaf or flower between his lips. He was by
nature very reticent; no outsider could win from him any details of the
many big things he had "put through." His talk, for choice, was about
gardening, for which he had a perfect passion; and his blooms were
famous in the neighbourhood where he spent his unofficial hours. Another
favourite diversion with him, until increasing pressure of work denied
him any leisure, was boating. He was very much at home on the Thames, a
powerful sculler, and very fond of the exercise. He never missed till
the very last a single Oxford and Cambridge boat-race, seeing it for
choice from the police steam-launch--the very best way indeed of going
to the race, but a pleasure reserved for the Home Secretary, the police
officials, and a few of their most intimate friends. The police boat is
the last to go down the course, and the first to follow the competing

One or two especially trying circumstances helped to break Williamson
down rather prematurely. He took very much to heart, as was natural, the
misconduct of his comrade detectives in the notorious de Goncourt turf
frauds. He was at that time practically the head of his branch, and some
of the blame--but, of course, none of the disgrace--was visited upon
him, as it was argued that his men had been allowed too free a hand.
This may have been the case; but he had to deal with men of uncommon
astuteness, who were the more unscrupulous because he trusted them so
implicitly, with the trust of a loyal nature, true to those above him,
and counting upon fidelity from his subordinates.

Mr. Williamson's active career was also chequered by the diabolical
nature of the crimes which kept him most busily employed. Fenianism
might have been found written on his heart, like Calais on Queen Mary's,
and, closely interwoven with it, anarchism and nihilism in all their
phases. He knew no peace when foreign potentates were the guests of our
royalties; Scotland Yard was, in fact, held responsible for the safety
of Czar and Emperor, and the police authorities depended chiefly on
Williamson, with his consummate knowledge and long experience of exotic
crime. It

[Illustration: OLD SCOTLAND YARD.]

was Williamson who was first on the scene when infernal machines had
exploded, or might be expected to explode at any moment.

To him the officer who is nowadays our chief mainstay and defence
against these outrages, Inspector Melville, owes much of his insight
into the peculiar business of the "special section," as this important
branch of criminal investigation is called. The latter not long ago
disposed very ingeniously of a case which might have led to serious
mischief. Fertility of resource with great promptitude in action are
among Mr. Melville's strongest and most valuable traits. Well, on one
occasion, during the visit to England of a foreign Sovereign,
information was received that one of his subjects residing in this
country, and by no means loyal to him, intended to do him an injury the
first time he could get near him in public. It happened that at that
moment the imperial visitor was on the point of joining in a great
procession, which had either actually started, or would start in the
course of an hour or so. The malcontent was employed as cellarman to a
wine and spirit merchant or publican with large wine vaults. There was
no time to lose, and Melville made the best of his way to the place, saw
the proprietor, and inquired for a certain brand of champagne he wished
to purchase. The master called his man and sent them down together into
the cellars. The cellarman went first with a light; at the bottom of the
staircase he unlocked the wine cellar and went in--still first.


"What wine is that over yonder?" asked Melville carelessly, and the man
crossed over to the far end of the vault to look before he answered.
This was all the astute officer wanted. Instantly seizing the
opportunity, he stepped back out of the cellar, closed the door promptly
and locked it. The irreconcilable cellarman was a prisoner, and was left
there perfectly safe from any temptation to carry out the fell purpose
of which he was suspected. After the procession was over he was set

Most of the prominent detectives of to-day learnt their work under
Williamson--Butcher, the chief inspector, who is as fond of flowers as
was his master, and may be known by the fine rose in his buttonhole;
Littlechild, who earned his first reputation in unravelling and exposing
long-firm and assurance office frauds; Neald, the curator of the Black
Museum, a sturdy, self-reliant, solid detective officer, who, among
other great cases, worked to a successful issue the "Orrock" murder, in
which the syllable "rock" scratched upon a chisel led ultimately to

The exposure of the detectives' misdeeds in 1876 brought a superior
official to Scotland Yard, and the first head of the newly named
Criminal Investigation Department was Colonel Howard Vincent. His
appointment was a surprise to many, and his fitness for the post was not
immediately apparent. He was young, comparatively speaking, unknown,
inexperienced in police matters, with no previous record but a brief
military service, followed by a call to the Bar. But he was energetic,
painstaking, a man of order, with some power of organisation; above all,
a gentleman of high character and integrity. His reign at Scotland Yard
may not have been marked by any phenomenal feats in detection; in the
pursuit of criminals he was dependent upon his able subordinates, and it
was his rule to summon the most experienced of them to advise him in all
serious cases. In the more subtle processes of analysis and deduction,
of working from effect to cause, from vague, almost impalpable
indications to strong presumption of guilt, Howard Vincent did not
shine; nor did he always, perhaps, fully realise the value of reticence
in detective operations; but he did good work at Scotland Yard by
raising the general tone and systematising the service.

[Illustration: _Photo: H. S. Mendelssohn, Pembridge Crescent, W._


Dr. Anderson, who was chief of the Investigation Department until 1901,
when he resigned, was an ideal detective officer, with a natural bias
for the work, and endowed with gifts peculiarly useful in it. He is a
man of the quickest apprehension, with the power of close, rapid
reasoning from facts, suggestions, or even impressions. He could seize
on the essential point almost by intuition, and was marvellously ready
in finding the real clue or indicating the right trail. With all this he
was the most discreet, the most silent and reserved of public
functionaries. Someone said he was a mystery even to himself. This, to
him, inestimable quality of reticence is not unaided by a slight, but
perhaps convenient, deafness. If he is asked an embarrassing question,
he quickly puts up his hand and says the inquiry has been addressed to
his deaf ear. But I shrewdly suspect that he hears all that he wishes to
hear; little goes on around him that is not noted and understood;
without seeming to pay much attention, he is always listening and
drawing his own conclusions.

[Illustration: _Photo: H.S. Mendelssohn, Pembridge Crescent, W._


The chief of the Investigation Department has, of course, to be in close
touch with all his subordinates; from his desk he can communicate with
every branch of his department. The speaking tubes hang just behind his
chair. A little farther off is the office telephone, which brings him
into converse with Sir Edward Bradford, the Chief Commissioner, or with
colleagues and subordinates in more distant parts of the "house." He is,
and must be, an indefatigable worker, since the labours of his
department are unceasing, and often of the most anxious, even
disappointing, character.

Dr. Anderson's successor is Colonel Henry, for many years
Inspector-General of Police in Bengal, and more recently employed on
special police duty at Johannesburg. He has been chosen for the post
not alone because of his long police experience, but also because he is
an expert in matters of identification, especially in regard to the
"finger-prints" system and the Bertillon system of anthropometry. Mr.
Macnaughten, the Chief Constable, or second in command of the
Investigation Department, is essentially a man of action. A man of
presence is Mr. Macnaughten--tall, well-built, with a military air,
although his antecedents are rather those of the public school, of
Indian planter life, than of the army. His room, like his chief's, is
hung with speaking tubes, his table is deep with reports and papers, but
the walls are bright with photographs of officials, personal friends,
and of notorious criminals which Mr. Macnaughten keeps by him as a
matter of business. Some other and more gruesome pictures are always
under lock and key; photographs, for instance, of the victims of Jack
the Ripper, and of other brutal murders, taken immediately after
discovery, and reproducing with dreadful fidelity the remains of bodies
that have been mutilated almost out of human semblance. It is Mr.
Macnaughten's duty, no less than his earnest desire, to be first on the
scene of any such sinister catastrophe. He is therefore more intimately
acquainted, perhaps, with the details of the most recent celebrated
crimes than anyone else at New Scotland Yard.

[Illustration: _Photo: Byrne & Co., Richmond._


Nor can the detective officers of the City Police be passed by without
an acknowledgment of their skill and their devotion to the public
service, especially Mr. McWilliam, who has long been chief of the
department. He has repeatedly shown himself a keen, clear-headed, highly
intelligent official, and he has gained especial fame in the unravelling
of forgeries and commercial frauds. The sixth of the so-called
Whitechapel murders, that of Mitre Square, was perpetrated within the
City limits, and brought the additional energies and acumen of the City
detectives to the solution of a perplexing mystery.

[Illustration: _Photo: Maull & Fox, Piccadilly, W._


Under such chiefs as these the rank and file of our detectives labour,
assiduously utilising the qualities which really serve them
best--patience and persistence, following the hints and suggestions
given them by their leaders. The best detective is he who has that
infinite capacity for taking pains which has been defined as the true
test of genius. It is not by guesses or sensational snapshots that
crimes are unearthed, but by the slow process of routine, almost
commonplace inquiry, after the most minute and painstaking investigation
of the traces--often of the most minute character--left upon the theatre
of the deed.

[Illustration: MR. MCWILLIAM.]

People whom business or chance has brought much into contact with
detectives must have been struck with their ubiquity. All who have a
good memory for faces or the vision to penetrate disguises will have had
many opportunities of recognising them in strange places and at
unexpected times. The police officer is to be met with in railway
trains, on board steamboats, in hotels, at all places of public resort.
He may

[Illustration: NEW SCOTLAND YARD.

  1. Commissioner's Room.
  2. View from the River (_Photo: York & Son, Notting Hill, W._).
  3. Principal Entrance.
  4. The Western Façade.

be seen in "the rooms" at Monte Carlo, retained by "the administration"
of the casino to keep his eye on the company, or engaged on business of
his own, "shadowing" some criminal or suspect. I have given my coat and
hat to a detective at a great London reception in an historic house,
where many of the guests were titled or celebrated people, but into
which others, unbidden and extremely undesirable, had been known to
insinuate themselves in the prosecution of their nefarious trade. I have
met detectives at a wedding breakfast, at a big dinner, at balls during
the season, and I can safely assert that these "professionals," in
manners or in costume, were certainly not the least gentlemanlike of the
guests assembled.

There is no better company than a good detective, if he can only be
persuaded to talk--no easy matter, for reticence is a first rule of
conduct in the profession, and he is seldom communicative except on
perfectly safe ground. It was my good fortune once to be thrown with a
well-known member of one of those provincial forces which include many
first-rate detective practitioners. It was some years back, and I am
committing no breach of confidence in recounting some of his

"Never let go, sir: that's the only rule. I like to keep touch of 'em
when once I've got 'em," he began, and he spoke pensively, as though his
mind were busy with the past, and he rubbed his hand thoughtfully over
his chin.

A man dressed quietly but well; his brown greatcoat not cut in the very
last fashion, perhaps, but of glossy cloth and in good style; a pearl
pin in his black silk scarf; and his boots, although thick-soled and
substantial, neatly made. His face was hard, shrewd, but not unkindly,
and there was a merry twinkle in his penetrating grey eyes, which seemed
to see through you in a single glance. Although very quiet and
unobtrusive in manner, he was evidently a man of much determination of
character; it was to be seen in his slow, distinct way of speaking, and
in the firm lines of a mouth which the clean-shaven upper lip fully

"But I've had luck, I won't deny that. There was that case of them
sharpers down in the eastern counties. It wasn't till all others had
failed that they put me on to the job. I didn't know the chap wanted,
not even by sight; and yet I was certain that he knew me. He'd been
doing the confidence trick with a young man of this town, and had
robbed him of over a hundred pounds. He made tracks out of the place--no
one knew where. He was a betting man, and I hunted for him high and low,
at all the racecourses of the country, but couldn't come upon him. We
were in London, last of all, and it was rather a joke against me at
Scotland Yard, where I had been, as usual, for help. They'd ask me if I
knew my man, and I was obliged to say 'No.' And if I thought I knew
where to find him, and I had to say 'No' to that too; and they always
laughed at me whenever I turned up. I was just about to travel
homewards, when I thought I'd try one more chance. There happened to be
a sporting paper on the coffee-room table, and I took it up. I saw two
race meetings were on for that day--Shrewsbury and Wye. I'd go for one,
but which? I shied up a shilling, and it came down Wye. So to the Wye
Races I went, with the young man who had been duped.

"The course was very crowded as we drove on. A couple with a great
lottery machine caught my eye; one was taking the money, the other
turning the handle, which ground out mostly blanks. 'Sergeant,' whispers
the young fellow to me all at once, 'that's him!' pointing to the man
who was taking the money. But how was I to take him? I got down, and
sent the trap to the other side of the tents, then stepped up to my man
and asked him plump for change for a five-pound note. He knew me
directly, and showed fight. I collared him, and moved him on towards the
trap, when the roughs raised a cry of 'Rouse, rouse!'--rescue, that is,
you know--and mobbed me. I held on--never let go, sir, as I said before,
that's the motto; but they broke two fingers of my right hand in the
shindy, and it was all I could do to force the fellow into the trap, but
I did it with my left, while I kept off the crowd with the other arm.
But I nearly lost him again on the way, all through being a soft-hearted
fool. His wife came after us, and at the station begged hard to be
allowed to go down with us. I agreed; what's more, I took the cuffs off
him, and let them talk together in the corner of the carriage. They
nearly sold me. It was in the ---- tunnel, dark as pitch, and the train
making a fine rattle, when the wife put down the window all of a sudden,
and he bolted through. I caught him by the leg, in spite of my game
fingers, but only just in time; and after that I handcuffed him to
myself--his wrist to mine.

[Illustration: "THE ROUGHS RAISED A CRY OF 'ROUSE! ROUSE!'" (p. 375).]

'Now,' says I, 'where you go, I go.' And that's the rule I've always
followed since.

"The London police have no very high opinion of country talent, but we
beat them sometimes, all the same--not that I want to say a word against
the Metropolitans. They've such opportunities, and so much knowledge.
Now there was Jim Highflyer; he'd never have been 'copped' but for a
couple of London detectives. He was a first-class workman was Highflyer,
and he once spent a long time in this town--not in his own name. While
he was here there were no end of big burglaries, and we never could get
at the rights of them. One of the worst of the lot was a plate robbery
from a jeweller's in Queen Street. A man with a sack had been tracked by
one of the constables a long way that night into the yard of a house,
and there he was lost. The house belonged to one of the town
councillors, Mr. T---- by name, a most respectable man, very free with
his money, and popular. We searched the yard next morning, and found a
lot of the plate in a dust-heap. Mr. T---- gave us every assistance. It
was quite plain how it had come there. There was no suspicion against
Mr. T----, of course; and do what we could, we couldn't pick up the man
we wanted. By-and-by the town councillor went away for a long spell; the
house was shut up--not let, as he was coming back, he said, and did once
or twice. After he left the burglaries stopped, and I'd have thought
very little more about it all if it hadn't been that I heard a man, who
had been arrested for an assault, and was in ----shire Gaol, had been
recognised by two London detectives as a notorious burglar, Jim
Highflyer. He'd got a knife upon him, and the name of the maker was a
cutler in this town; also a silver pencil-case, with the name of the
jeweller in Queen Street. I went over to the gaol, and identified the
man at once. It was the town councillor himself, Mr. T----. We searched
his house here after that, and found it crammed full of stolen goods.
You see, there it was the Metropolitans did the job. Highflyer would
have got off with a few weeks for the assault, but they knew him and all
about him. He was 'wanted' just then for several other affairs. He got
ten years, did Master Jim.

"But the neatest and about the longest job I ever was concerned in was
young Mr. Burbidge's case, and that I did in London without any help
from the London police. He was in the theatrical profession; a smart
young chap, greatly trusted by his manager, who employed him as a
confidential secretary, and allowed him to keep the accounts and all the
cash. No one checked one or counted t'other. One fine morning he went
off with a big sum. He'd been to the bank and drawn a cheque to pay the
weekly wages; but he bolted instead, leaving the treasury empty and the
whole company whistling for their 'screws.' The manager was half mad,
and he came at once to the police. The chief sent for me. 'It's a bad
business, thoroughly bad, and we must get him,' he said. 'Spare no
pains--spend what money you like, only catch him, if you can.' In jobs
of this sort, sir, time goes a long way. Burbidge had got a good start,
several hours or more; it was no use my rushing off after him in a
hurry, particularly as I did not know which way to rush. So I set myself
to think a little before I commenced work. The 'swag' stolen was large.
The thief would probably try to make tracks out of the country as soon
as he could; but which way? To Liverpool, perhaps, and by one of the
ocean steamers to the States; or to Hull, and so to Sweden and Norway;
or London, and so to France and Spain. I sent one of my men to the
railway station to make inquiries, and another to wire to the police at
the ports and to Scotland Yard to watch the Continental trains.

"The job I kept for myself was to find out what I could about young
Burbidge's ways. It's the only way to get a line on a man who's made off
in a hurry and left no clue. So I called at his rooms. He lived in
comfortable apartments over a tobacconist's, and was a good customer to
his landlord, to judge by the number of pipes I saw over the
mantelpiece, all of which were as well coloured as a black-and-tan. The
rooms were just as he left them--he might really have been coming back
in half-an-hour, only he didn't quite intend to, not if he knew it. The
chest of drawers was full of clothes; there were boots already polished;
brush and comb on the dressing-table. In the sitting-room the slippers
were on the hearth, books, acting-plays lying on the sofa and about the
floor, a writing-desk, but not a single scrap of paper--not a letter, or
an envelope, or even an unreceipted bill. He'd made up his mind to bolt,
and he'd removed everything which might give us the smallest notion of
which way he'd gone.

"It was just the same at the theatre. He'd had a sort of dressing-room
there, which he'd used as an office, with a desk in it, and pigeon-holes
and a nest of drawers. It was all left ship-shape enough. Files of
play-bills, of accounts receipted and not, ledgers, and all that; but
not a paper of the kind I looked for. I made a pretty close search, too.
I took every piece of furniture bit by bit, and turned over every scrap
of stuff with writing on it or without. I forced every lock, and
ransacked every hiding-place, but I got nothing anywhere for my pains.
The manager was with me all the time, and he didn't half like it, I can
tell you. No more did I, although I wouldn't for worlds show that I was
vexed. I tried to keep him up, saying it'd come all right--that patience
in these things never failed in the long run; and I got him to talk
about the young chap, to see if I could come upon his habits that way.
'Who were his friends, now?' I asked. 'He'd none in particular--not in
the company, at least, or out of it.' 'Ah! who might this be?' I said
quietly, as I drew out of the blotting-paper a photograph of a young
lady: a fair-haired little bit of a thing, with a pretty, rather modest,
face, which I felt I should know again.

"The _carte de visite_ had the photographer's name on it, and his
address, that of a good street. This was my line, of course. I made up
my mind to follow on to London at once. Then one of my men came in to
say that Burbidge had been seen taking a ticket--to London? No; only to
Shrivelsby--a long way short of it. It was some game, I felt certain. He
might have gone to London, and paid excess fare; but I wired to
Shrivelsby, and also to town. No one like him had been seen at
Shrivelsby; he hadn't got out there, that was clear. Only one person
did, and it wasn't Burbidge; at least, the person did not answer to his
description. It was only a man in a working-suit--a mechanic on the
look-out for work. Nor had he been seen at Euston; but that was a big
place, and he might easily have been missed. So I started for London at
once, taking the photograph and another of Burbidge, whom I had never
seen in my life. It is not difficult to hunt out who owns to a _carte de
visite_, particularly when the portrait's that of a theatrical. I got
upon the track of the lady fast enough, directly I went into the
photographer's place. There was a likeness of her in his album, in the
very same dress, and her name to it, Miss Jessie Junniper. I soon found
out more too. Before night I knew that she was playing at the Royal
Roscius, and that she lived in a street of little villas down
Hammersmith way. I took lodgings myself in the house just opposite, and
set up a close watch. In the morning, early, Miss Jessie came out, and I
followed her to the Underground Railway. She took a ticket for the
Temple Station. So did I, and I tracked her down to the theatre.
Rehearsal, of course. Three hours passed before she came out again. Then
a man met her at the stage door, a very old gentleman, who leant on a
stick, and seemed very humpty-backed and bent. They went down the Strand
together to Allen's, the great trunk-maker, and through the windows I
saw them buy a couple of those big trunks, baskets covered with black
leather, such as ladies take on their travels. ''Um,' thought I, 'she's
on the flit.'

"I was only just in time. Then they went down to Charing Cross Station,
and so back to Hammersmith. The old gentleman went into the house with
Miss Junniper, and stayed an hour or two, and then took his leave. Next
day Miss Junniper did not go out. The boxes arrived, and towards midday
an oldish lady--a middle-aged, poorly-dressed, shabby-genteel
lady--called and stayed several hours. But no Burbidge, and nobody at
all like him. I began to feel disappointed. The third day Miss
Junniper went out again to rehearsal; the old gentleman met her as
before, and the two drove in a cab to the City. I followed them to
Leadenhall-street, where they went into the offices of the White Star
Line. I did not go upstairs with them, and somehow I lost them when they
came out. I ought to have guessed then what I did not think of till late
that night. Of course, the old gentleman was Burbidge himself. He was an
actor, and a nipper, therefore, at disguises. He'd been play-acting all
along. He was the mechanic at Shrivelsby, the shabby-genteel old lady,
and the old man most of all. I won't tell you how I cursed myself for
not thinking of this sooner. It was almost too late when I did. My gent.
had left the villa (to which they had returned), and he did not come
back next day, nor yet the day after; and I was nearly wild with the
chance I'd lost. He'd got 'the office,' that's what I thought, and I was
up a tree. But the third day came a telegram for the young lady. I saw
the boy deliver it and go off, as though there was no answer. Then she
came out, and I followed her to the telegraph-office. I saw her write
her message and send

(p. 380).]

it off. I'd have given pounds to read it, but I couldn't manage it; the
clerk--it's their duty--wouldn't let me. I was countered again, and I
was almost beat, and thinking of writing home to say so, when I saw Miss
Junniper's message in the compartment where she had been writing. She'd
done it with a hard pencil, which showed through. There was the address
as plain as ninepence--no mystery or circumlocution--'Burbidge, King's
Head Hotel, Kingston.' I was there the same evening, just before his
dinner. I asked if Mr. Burbidge was there. Sure enough. He wasn't a bit
afraid of being took, I suppose, so far off the line of pursuit, so he'd
stuck to his own name, and was not even disguised. He gave in without a
word. The tickets were on him, and in his bag upstairs a lot of the
cash he'd stolen; likewise a wardrobe of clothes--the old gentleman's
suit, and all the rest."

Our American cousins are, as I have said, well served by their official
detectives, but private agents do much of the business of pursuit and
detection, and of these semi-official aids to justice one firm has
gained a world-wide celebrity. Some account of the chief and first of
the Pinkertons may be introduced here.

Allan Pinkerton began life as a cooper, and was doing a thriving
business at Dundee, some thirty-eight miles north-west of Chicago, about
1847. The times were primitive; barter took the place of cash payments
in the absence of a currency. To remedy this inconvenience, a bank was
started in Milwaukee, which throve and had many branches, doing such a
good business that its notes passed everywhere, and were extensively
counterfeited. A gang of the forgers had been discovered by Allan
Pinkerton on a small island in the Fox River near Dundee. Wanting poles
and staves for his trade, he had gone to cut them in the woods, when he
came upon the embers of camp-fires, and signs that the island was
secretly frequented by tramps and others. Pinkerton informed the
sheriff, and active steps were taken by which a large confederacy of
horse thieves, "cover-men," and counterfeiters was broken up.

The trade still flourished, however, and some of the reputable citizens
of Dundee begged Allan Pinkerton to do further service to his town in
trying to check it. A suspicious stranger had just come to Dundee,
asking for "old man Crane"; this Crane was known as a "hard character,"
the associate of thieves and evil-doers, and an agent, it was thought,
for the distribution of bogus notes. The villagers generally gave him a
wide berth, and when the counterfeit money reappeared in the shape of
many forged ten-dollar bills, this "old man Crane" was credited with
being the centre of the traffic. Any friend or acquaintance of his came
equally under suspicion, and Allan Pinkerton was set to discover what he
could about this new arrival. He proved to be a hale, strong man,
advanced in years, who rode a splendid horse. Pinkerton found him
waiting at the saddler's, where some repairs were being made to his
saddle, and easily got into conversation with him. The stranger wanted
to know where "old man Crane" lived, and when informed, casually
mentioned that he often had some business with him. Pinkerton seemed to
understand, and the other suddenly asked, "Do you ever deal, any?"
"Yes, when I can get a first-rate article," promptly replied Pinkerton.
Whereupon the stranger said he had some that were "bang up," and pulled
out a bundle of notes, which he handed over for Pinkerton's inspection,
believing him to be a "square man."

The stranger proved to be one John Craig, who had long been engaged with
a nephew, Smith, at Elgin, in the fabrication of false notes. Pinkerton
said afterwards that he had never seen anything more perfect than these
spurious notes; they were exact imitations, almost without a flaw. They
were indeed so good that they even passed muster at the bank on which
they were counterfeited, and were received over the counter, and had
been paid in and out more than once without discovery. Craig, who
appears to have been a singularly confiding person, went on to tell
Pinkerton, of whom he knew nothing, that "old man Crane" had once acted
extensively for him, but was now slackening off, and that a new and more
enterprising agent was much required. Then he offered Pinkerton the job
to work the entire "western field," and said he could supply him with
from 500 to 1,000 forged bills, for which he need only pay 25 per cent.
of their face value.

Pinkerton agreed to these terms; he was to raise the necessary cash and
meet Craig by appointment in Elgin, the place of rendezvous being the
basement of the Baptist chapel. Craig said that he never carried any
large quantity of the notes about with him; it was too dangerous. His
regular place of residence, too, was near the Canadian frontier at
Fairfield, Vermont, whence he could quickly make tracks if threatened
with capture. He kept two engravers of his own constantly employed in
counterfeiting and printing; he showed Pinkerton other samples, and
seemingly gave himself quite away. After this, they parted in Dundee,
but the "trade" was soon afterwards completed in Elgin town. Pinkerton
proceeded on foot, taking with him the necessary cash provided by his
friends in Dundee. He met his new confederates at the Baptist chapel and
received the forged bills in exchange for the good money.

Allan Pinkerton, in telling this story, frankly admits that he was
sorely tempted to take up the nefarious traffic. He had in his hand a
thousand ten-dollar notes, representing a couple of thousand
pounds--spurious money, no doubt, but so admirably counterfeited that
they were almost as good as gold. He would have no difficulty in
passing them, and with this capital he might lay the foundation of his
fortune. Pinkerton put aside the evil thought, but he never forgot how
nearly he had yielded, and always sympathised with those who had been
seduced into crime.

[Illustration: CRAIG UNDERGOING SEARCH (p. 385).]

Pinkerton now lent all his energies to securing the arrest of Craig.
Appointing to meet him again, he offered to buy him out and take over
his whole business. If Craig would only give him time to raise the
necessary funds, he would carry on the concern on large lines. Craig had
no objection, and promised to furnish Pinkerton with a full
stock-in-trade. Another appointment was made for a few days later in a
Chicago hotel, and now Pinkerton arranged for Craig's capture. A warrant
and the services of a couple of officers were obtained. Craig came, and
the pair entered into business at once. Craig was ready with four
thousand bills and would deliver them within an hour; but Pinkerton
objected, and would not hand over the cash without seeing the bills.
Craig resented this, and, becoming distrustful, broke up the conference,
but on going out he told Pinkerton he would think the matter over and
see him by-and-by.

Craig did in fact return, but when Pinkerton asked him if he meant to
complete the bargain, he denied all knowledge of it, and, indeed, of
Pinkerton. Nothing was to be gained by delay, and the officers at once
arrested Craig, who was taken to a room in the hotel and searched. But
not a dollar in counterfeit money was found upon him, and when taken
before the magistrate he was released on bail. He appears to have used
his money freely in obtaining bail, and soon bolted, gladly forfeiting
his recognisances rather than "face the music." His disappearance
cleared the neighbourhood of counterfeiters for some years.

It can hardly be said that Allan Pinkerton showed any marvellous acumen
in this detection. But it was a first attempt, and it was soon followed
by more startling adventures.

A special product of modern times is the private inquiry agent, so much
employed nowadays, whose ingenuity, patient pertinacity, and
determination to succeed have been usefully engaged in unravelling
intricate problems, verging upon, if not actually included within, the
realm of crime. I knew one who was employed by a famous firm of
solicitors in a very delicate operation, which he terminated
successfully, but in a way to show that he did not stick at trifles in
securing his end. It was the sequel to a divorce case. The decree nisi
had been granted, and against the wife, who had been refused the custody
of the one child born of the marriage. The husband was anxious to secure
possession of the child, but the wife, like so many more of her sex, was
much too sharp to be forestalled. She had a friend waiting at the court
who, directly the decree was pronounced, started off in a hansom to the
lady's residence, where the child was, laid hands on it, and brought it
down to Victoria Station just in time for the night mail to the
Continent, by which lady and child travelled together to the south of
France. A detective was at once despatched in pursuit by the husband's
lawyer, and his orders were at all costs to recover possession of the
child. He soon got upon the lady's track. She had not gone further than
Monte Carlo. The detective found it impossible to kidnap the child, so
he managed to make friends with the mother, gradually grew very
intimate, paid her devoted attention, and eventually married her. When
he was her husband he had no difficulty in completing his commission,
and--possibly with the lady's full consent--he soon sent the child home.
I never heard how his marriage--all in the way of business!--turned out.

Another story is, perhaps, more dramatic. A married man of considerable
property, strictly entailed, died childless in India. The estates went
to the next-of-kin, but he, just as he was entering into their
enjoyment, was startled by a telegram from his relative's widow,
preparing him for the birth of a posthumous child. He at once consulted
his lawyer, who, after warning him that much time and money would
probably be spent in the process, promised to expose the fraud, if fraud
there was, or, at any rate, prove that it was a _bonâ-fide_ affair.

A year passed, and yet the next-of-kin had heard nothing of the case. At
last he went to his lawyers and insisted upon knowing how it stood. He
was told that the matter was now ripe; the lady had arrived with her
infant son. She was actually at that moment at a private hotel in the
West End.

"Go and call on her, and insist upon seeing the child. If there's any
difficulty about it, go out on the landing and call out 'Bartlett!' A
man will come down and explain everything."

The lady did not produce the child when asked; she said it was out in
the park with the nurse, and tried all sorts of excuses, so Bartlett was

"I want to see the child," said the next-of-kin.

"This lady's? She has no child. I have been with her now for six months,
and she has asked me repeatedly to get her one--anywhere, in Cairo, at
the Foundling in Malta, here in London."

"Who are you, then?" both inquired, astonished beyond measure.

And "Bartlett," having completed his mission, quietly informed the lady,
whom he had been watching, and the next-of-kin, who was really his
employer, that he was the detective engaged to unravel the case.

With such men as this on the side of law and justice, long-continued
fraud, however astutely prepared, becomes almost impossible. The private
inquiry agent is generally equal to any emergency.





     Recurrence of Criminal Types--Heredity and Congenital Instinct--The
     Jukes and Other Families of Criminals--John Hatfield--Anthelme
     Collet's Amazing Career of Fraud--The Story of Pierre Cognard:
     Count Pontis de St. Hélène: Recognised by an Old Convict Comrade:
     Sent to the Galleys for Life--Major Semple: His many Vicissitudes
     in Foreign Armies: Thief and Begging-Letter Writer: Transported to
     Botany Bay.

The regular recurrence of certain crimes and the reappearance of
particular types of criminals have been often remarked by those who deal
with judicial records; the fact is established by general experience,
and is capable of abundant proof. It is to be explained in part by
heredity. The child follows the father, and on a stronger influence than
that of mere imitativeness; and these transmitted tendencies to crime
can be illustrated by many well-authenticated cases, where whole
families have been criminals generation after generation. There is the
famous, or infamous, family of the Jukes, a prolific race of criminals,
starting from a vagabond father and five of his disreputable daughters.
The Jukes descendants in less than a hundred years numbered twelve
hundred individuals, all of them more or less evincing the criminal
taint. These facts have been brought out by the patient investigation of
Mr. Dugdale, an American scientist. An old case is recorded of a
Yorkshire family, the Dunhills, the head of which, Snowdon Dunhill,
spread terror through the East Riding as the chief of a band of
burglars. This Snowdon Dunhill was convicted in 1813 of robbing a
granary, and sentenced to seven years' transportation. He returned from
the Antipodes to earn a second sentence of exile, and his son was at the
same time sentenced to transportation. One of his sisters, Rose Dunhill,
was twice imprisoned for larceny; another, Sarah, had been repeatedly
convicted of picking pockets, and was finally sent across the water for
seven years. It may be incidentally stated, as showing the contamination
of evil, that nearly all who came into association with the Dunhills
felt the baneful influence of the family. Dunhill's wife was
transported; so were Rose Dunhill's two husbands and Sarah's three.

In 1821 a wide district of Northern France known as that of Santerre,
between Peronne and Montdidier, was the scene of numerous and repeated
crimes. There was no mystery about their perpetrators; the thieves and
their victims lived side by side, yet the latter only spoke of them with
bated breath, and shrank from denouncing them to the police. At last the
authorities interposed and arrested the malefactors, who were tried and
disposed of in due course of law. It was found that they were all of one
family, which had started originally in one village and ramified
gradually into neighbouring districts. Eleven years later, in 1832, a
second generation had come to manhood, and these true sons of their
fathers perpetrated exactly the same offences. Yet again, in 1852, a
fresh wave of depredation passed over the district, and again the same
families were responsible for the crimes. The last manifestation was
perhaps the worst of all. Thefts, arson, and murder had been of repeated
occurrence, but no arrests were made until a knife found in the
possession of a villager was identified as one of a lot stolen from a
travelling cheap-Jack. The man who had it was a Hugot. Through him
others were implicated, a Villet and a Lemaire. These three names,
Hugot, Villet, and Lemaire, were full of sinister significance in the
neighbourhood, and recalled a long series of dark deeds, perpetrated by
the ancestors of these very criminals.

Lombroso has collected a number of cases showing how the criminal
tendency has reappeared in successive generations. Dumollard, the
wholesale murderer of women, was the son of a murderer; Patetot, another
murderer, was the grandson and great-grandson of a criminal. There was a
family named Nathan, of which, on one particular day, there were
fourteen members in the same gaol. These Nathans were a band of thieves
entirely made up

Life by G. Gold._)]

of relations--parents and children, brothers and cousins. It has been
observed that the most notorious Italian brigands regularly inherited
the business from their parents; we shall see presently how the Coles
and Youngers of the Western States of America were all closely related;
many of the most desperate members of the Neapolitan Camorra were
brothers. There is a village in the south of Italy which has been a nest
and focus of criminals for centuries. The natives are mostly related to
each other by intermarriage, and all seem bound by tradition to prey
upon their fellows. Again, in the Madras Presidency, at Trichinopoly, a
whole caste of thieves existed, one and all vowed to various kinds of
crime; and the practice of crime by certain Indian tribes generation
after generation is well known to Indian police officers.

That the criminal virus is widely disseminated is proved by its
unfailing reappearance in all times and places. Crimes of the same sort
have been and are being continually committed, with no greater
difference than is due to surroundings, opportunities, individual
idiosyncrasies, the changing circumstances that accompany the varying
conditions of life. I propose to show now from a number of selected
cases how thieves, swindlers, depredators, murderers, and all kinds and
classes of criminals who make mankind their prey, have been reproduced
again and again. Both men and women have been found acting under the
same baleful impulse, showing greater or less ingenuity, but working on
the same lines. The sharper follows out his long career of successful
fraud and imposture century after century. Such men as Hatfield, Collet,
Coster, Sheridan, Benson, Shinburn, Allmeyer, are the seemingly
inevitable recurrence of one and the same type. Jenny Diver and the
German Princess have had their later manifestations in Mrs. Gordon
Baillie, La "Comtesse," Sandor, and Bertha Heyman. Cain has innumerable
descendants; nothing stops the murderer when the savage instinct is in
the ascendant; he feels no remorse when the deed is done. I shall
presently give a short account of one or two of those miscreants who
might otherwise escape classification, and whose very names are
synonymous with great crimes--Troppmann, Bichel, Dumollard, De
Tourville, and Peace. But this section may very well begin with some
account of a few famous swindlers.


One of the earliest swindlers in modern records was John Hatfield, a
youth of low origin, who was yet so gifted by nature, had such mother
wit and such a persuasive tongue, that he succeeded in passing himself
off as a man of rank and fortune without detection or punishment for a
long series of years. He was born of poor parents in Cheshire, in 1769,
and on reaching manhood became the commercial traveller of a
linen-draper, working the north of England. On one of his rounds he met
with a young lady, a distant connection of the ducal house of Rutland,
who had a small fortune of her own, and, using his honeyed tongue,

[Illustration: _Photo: W. H. Grove, Brompton Road, S.W._


he succeeded in inducing her to marry him. The happy pair proceeded to
London, where they lived on their capital, the wife's dowry, some
£1,500, which was quickly squandered in extravagance and riotous living.
It was impossible to keep this up, and Hatfield again retired to the
country, where he presently deserted his wife, leaving her with her
children in complete destitution. He made his way once more to London,
and, boasting much of his relationship with the Manners family, got
credit from confiding tradesmen, until the bubble burst, when he was
sent to a debtors' prison. About this time his wife died in great
penury. Hatfield soon afterwards, by a series of artful
misrepresentations, obtained money from the Duke of Rutland, who secured
his release.

[Illustration: JOHN HATFIELD.

(_From a Contemporary Engraving._)]

In 1735 the Duke was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and Hatfield,
hoping to find fresh openings for exercising his ingenuity, determined
to follow him to Dublin. Here he gave the landlord of a good hotel a
plausible excuse for his arriving without servants, carriages, or
horses, and for some time lived very pleasantly, being treated with much
deference as a relative of the Viceroy. At the end of the month the
landlord presented his bill, and was referred to Hatfield's agent, who,
strangely enough, was "out of town." When the bill was again presented,
Hatfield gave the address of a gentleman living in the castle; this
gentleman, however, declined to be answerable, whereupon Hatfield was
served with a writ, and conveyed at once to the Marshalsea, in Dublin.
He was there able to win the commiseration of the gaoler and his wife by
the old story of his high connections, and by his deep anxiety that his
Excellency should hear of his temporary embarrassments. By means of
these lies he was lodged in most comfortable quarters, and was treated
with every respect; and upon his making further application to the Duke
of Rutland, his Grace again weakly agreed to pay his debts, on the
condition that he left Ireland immediately.

Hatfield, on his return to England, visited Scarborough and renewed his
fraudulent operations, but he was discovered and thrown into prison,
where he remained for eight and a half years. At the end of that time he
was released through the intervention of a Miss Nation, a Devonshire
lady, who paid his debts for him, and afterwards gave him her hand in
marriage. He now posed as a reformed character, and lived an honest life
for just three years, during which period he became partner in a firm at
Tiverton. Then he offered himself as parliamentary candidate for
Queenborough, but his past misdeeds had been too notorious, and the
constituency would not elect him. Balked in his attempt, he straightway
left his home and family, and once more disappeared.

In 1802 he came to the surface under the assumed name of Colonel the
Hon. Alexander Augustus Hope, brother to Lord Hopetoun, and member for
Linlithgow. Hatfield was staying in the Lake district, at the Queen's
Hotel, Keswick, and near here, at Buttermere, he met a village beauty,
Mary Robinson, whose parents owned an hotel on the shores of the lake.
He was not long in winning her affections. But the double-faced
scoundrel at this moment was paying attention to another young lady, the
rich ward

[Illustration: "MARY OF BUTTERMERE."

(_Drawn from Life by J. Gillray._)]

of an Irish gentleman, Mr. Murphy, who, with his family, was resident in
the same hotel. This suit prospered. Hatfield's proposal was accepted,
and communications were opened with Lord Hopetoun. The villain allowed
none of the letters to reach their destination. The day was even fixed
for the marriage. At the last moment the bridegroom did not appear, but
Mr. Murphy received a letter from him at Buttermere, under his name of
Colonel Hope, asking him to cash a cheque or draft which he enclosed,
drawn on a Liverpool banker. The money was obtained, and sent to
Buttermere, but Colonel Hope continued to be missing, until the news
arrived that he had run off with Mary Robinson. It never transpired why
he preferred this sweet girl, whose charms were afterwards sung by
Wordsworth, to his other well-dowered _partie_. Some do him the credit
of saying that he really loved Mary Robinson; others that, already
fearing detection and exposure, he thought it wise to disappear.

Exposure was, indeed, close at hand. Mr. Murphy wrote direct to Lord
Hopetoun, and soon heard that the supposed Colonel Hope was an impostor.
The draft on the Liverpool bankers also proved to be a forgery, and many
letters fraudulently franked by Hatfield as an M.P. were brought up
against him. After his marriage with Mary Robinson he had gone to
Scotland, but had cut short his wedding trip to return to Buttermere,
where he was arrested on several charges. Hatfield dexterously made his
escape from the constable who took him, and was long lost sight of. At
last, after many wanderings, he was captured in the neighbourhood of
Swansea, and sent to the gaol of Brecon. He tried to pass off as one
Tudor Henry, but was easily identified, and on his removal to Carlisle
was tried for his life. Sentence of death was passed upon him, and he
suffered on the 3rd of September, 1803. "Notwithstanding his various and
complicated enormities," says a contemporary chronicle, "his untimely
end excited considerable commiseration. His manners were extremely
polished and insinuating, and he was possessed of qualities which might
have rendered him an ornament to society."


Anthelme Collet stands out in the long list of swindlers as one of the
most insinuating and accomplished scoundrels that ever took to criminal
ways. A number of curious stories have survived of his ingenuity, his
daring, and his long, almost unbroken, success. He is a product of the
French revolutionary epoch, and found his account in the general
dislocation of society that prevailed in France and her subject
countries in the commencement of the last century.

Collet's parents lived in the department of the Aisne, where he was born
in 1785. From his childhood up he was noted as a consummate liar and
cunning thief, and to cure him of his evil propensities he was sent to
an uncle in Italy, a priest, who kept him by his side for three years,
but made nothing of him. Young Collet then returned to France, and
entered the military school at Fontainebleau, from which he graduated as
_sous-lieutenant_, and passed on to a regiment in garrison at Brescia.
Here he soon made friends with the monks of a neighbouring Capuchin
monastery, and, preferring their society to that of his comrades, became
the subject of constant gibes. Exasperated by this, and chafing at the
restraints of military discipline, he resolved to desert. A wound
received in a duel strengthened him in this determination. He was sent
for cure to a hospital, that of San Giacomo, in Naples, and there met a
Dominican monk, chaplain of the order, who persuaded him to take the
cowl. Collet also earned the gratitude of a sick mate, a major in the
French army, whom he seems to have nursed, but who was so seriously
wounded that he did not recover. At his death the Major left Collet all
his possessions--3,000 francs in money, a gold watch, and two very
valuable rings.

[Illustration: Anthelme Collet

(_From a Contemporary Engraving._)]

Collet, in due course, entered as a novice with the brothers of St.
Pierre, and was soon so high in the good graces of his companions that
the Prior appointed him _quêteur_, the brother selected to seek alms and
subscriptions for his convent. The young man's greed could not resist
the handling of money; he quickly succumbed to temptation,
misappropriated the funds he collected, and returned to the convent from
his first mission several thousand francs short in his accounts. Fearing
detection, he made up his mind to disappear. One day, talking with his
friend the syndic of the town, he succeeded in securing a number of
passports signed in blank. Then he went to the Prior, and informed him
that he had come into a large fortune, but had hesitated to claim it as
he was a deserter from his regiment. If the Prior would protect him he
would now do so, and on this he was permitted to go to Naples, armed
with introductions to a bank, and other credentials from the convent.

At Naples, Collet's first act was to obtain 22,000 francs from the
bankers by false pretences, and, being in funds, he threw off his
monkish garb, assumed that of a high-born gentleman, and, filling up one
of his passports in the name of the Marquis de Dada, started _viâ_ Capua
for Rome. _En route_ he again changed his identity, having become
possessed of the papers of one Tolosan, a sea captain, and native of
Lyons, who had been wrecked on the Italian coast. Some say that Collet
had picked up Tolosan's pocket-book, others that he had stolen it. In
any case, he called himself by that name on arrival at Rome, and as a
Lyonnais sought the protection of a venerable French priest also from
Lyons, who was acquainted with the Tolosan family, and through whom he
was presented to Cardinal Archbishop Fesch, the uncle of the Emperor

He now became an inmate of the Cardinal's palace, and was introduced by
his patron everywhere, even to the Pope. Under such good auspices he
soon began to prey upon his new friends, before whom he put the many
schemes that filled his inventive mind, and from most of whom he
extracted considerable sums. He persuaded a rich merchant clothier to
endorse a bill for 60,000 francs; he borrowed another sum of 30,000
francs from the Cardinal Archbishop's bankers; he bought jewellery on
credit to the value of 60,000 francs from one tradesman and defrauded
many others; even the Cardinal's personal servants were laid under
contribution. A more daring theft was a number of blank appointments to
the priesthood which he abstracted from the Cardinal's bureau, and with
them a bull to create a bishop _in partibus_. Then he decamped from

His thefts and frauds were soon discovered, and the papal police put
upon his track. He had left Rome on an ecclesiastical mission, and in
company with other priests, one of whom was informed of his real
character and requested to secure him. But Collet, having some
suspicion, forestalled him by making off before he could be arrested.
The place to which he fled was Mondovi, where he set up as a young man
of fashion, and was soon a centre of the pleasure-loving, with whom he
spent his money freely. His next idea was to organise amateur
theatricals, and he forthwith constituted himself the wardrobe-keeper
of the company. A number of fine costumes were ordered, among them the
robes of a bishop and other ecclesiastical garments, the uniforms of a
French general officer and of French diplomatists, with all the
accessories, ribbons, medals, decorations, feathers, and gold lace. On
the night preceding the first dress rehearsal he again decamped,
carrying off most of the "properties" and clothes.

Now he assumed the garb of a Neapolitan priest who was flying into
Switzerland from French oppression. He fabricated the necessary papers
and was fully accepted by the Bishop of Sion, who appointed him to a
cure of souls in a parish close by. Here he discharged all the clerical
functions, confessing, marrying, baptizing, burying the dead, teaching
youth, visiting the sick, consoling the poor and needy. He also started
a scheme for restoring the parish church, and collected 30,000 francs
for the good work, promising to make up from his own purse any balance
required. The building was set on foot, an architect was engaged, and
many purchases were made by the false _curé_, who was, of course,
treasurer of the fund. Collet finished up by paying a visit to a
neighbouring town, where he bought religious pictures, candelabra, and
church plate, all on credit, and despatched them to his parish. But he
proceeded himself with the building money to Strasburg, driving post.

Using many different disguises, and playing many parts, he travelled
from Strasburg into Germany, and then by a circuitous route through the
Tyrol into Italy, making for Turin, where he forged a bill of exchange
for 10,000 francs, and got the money. But the fraud was detected, and he
had to fly, this time towards Nice. Now he filled in the bull appointing
to a bishopric, and created himself Bishop of Monardan, by name Dominic
Pasqualini. This gained him a cordial welcome from the Bishop of Nice,
who invited him to his summer palace, where all the clergy were
assembled to be presented to him. His Eminence wished the sham bishop to
examine his deacons, but Collet avoided the danger by saying there could
be no need; he was sure that his brother of Nice had not ordained
"ignorant asses." Yet the other was not to be entirely put off, and at
his earnest request Collet put on his episcopal robes, stolen from the
amateurs of Mondovi, and ordained thirty deacons, after which he
preached a sermon--one of Bourdaloue's, which he had by heart.

The _rôle_ of bishop was a little too dangerous, so Collet abandoned the
violet apron and went on to Paris as a private person. On arrival he
came across the friend who had helped him to his first appointment in
the army, and being well provided with funds, he renewed his
acquaintance by giving him a sumptuous dinner. Through this friend's
good offices he was reappointed to the army, this time to the 47th of
the line, in garrison at Brest, and Collet started for the west to join
his regiment. But he does not seem to have got further than L'Orient.
He, however, perpetrated a number of robberies by the way, and now
resolved to break ground in an entirely new and distant quarter.
Bringing his inventiveness to bear, he fabricated papers appointing
himself inspector-general and general administrator of the army of
Catalonia; his new name and title being Charles Alexander, Count of

He took the road to Fréjus, on the Riviera, not the most direct to
Catalonia, and was everywhere received with great honour on presenting
his credentials. Thence, with an imposing escort, he passed on to
Draguignan, and appeared in full uniform, covered with decorations,
before the astonished war commissaries, explaining that he had the
Emperor's express commands to undertake an inquiry into their accounts.
At the same time he appointed a staff, aides-de-camp, secretaries, and
attendants, and soon had a suite of some twenty people. Amongst the
papers he had forged was one which empowered him to draw upon the
military chest for the equipment of his army of Catalonia. At Marseilles
he had made use of this to secure 130,000 francs, and at Nismes he laid
hands on 300,000 more. Whenever he arrived in a garrison he reviewed the
troops, and conducted himself as a grand personage.

At Montpelier his luck turned. He had begun well; a crowd of suppliants
fell at his feet, including the prefect, to whom Collet promised his
influence and a strong recommendation for the Grand Cross of the Legion
of Honour. But at this moment the bubble burst. The prefecture was
suddenly surrounded by the gendarmes, a police officer entered the
salle-à-manger and arrested Collet as he sat at table with the prefect
and his staff. No fault could well be found with those whom Collet had
duped, but the swindler himself was in fear of being instantly shot. He
was, however, kept in confinement awaiting superior orders.

One day the prefect, still chafing at the trick played upon him,

[Illustration: ARREST OF COLLET (p. 398).]

told his guests at dinner that he would allow them to see this bold and
unscrupulous person, whose name was on every tongue. He accordingly sent
for Collet, who was brought from the prison to the prefecture escorted
by the gendarmes. While waiting to be exhibited he was lodged in the
serving-room, next the dining-room. Here he found, to his surprise and
delight, a full suit of white, the costume of a _marmiton_, a cook's
assistant. He quickly assumed the disguise, and taking up the nearest
dish, walked out between the sentries on guard, passed into the
dining-room, through it, and out of the prefecture. He was soon missed,
and a great hue and cry was raised through the country, but Collet all
the time had found a hiding-place close by the house.

When the alarm had ceased, he slipped away, and leaving Montpelier, made
his way to Toulouse, where he cashed another forged bill of exchange,
now for 5,000 francs. With the funds obtained he travelled northward,
but was followed from Toulouse, for the forgery was quickly discovered.
When arrested they carried him to Grenoble, and there he was tried for
the forgery. His sentence was to five years' _travaux forcés_, and
exposure in the pillory (_carcan_). Before long he was recognised at
Grenoble by one of those whom he had nominated to his staff at Fréjus,
and being tried again he was now sent to the Bagne of Brest. Collet
passed five years in this prison, and somehow contrived to live more or
less comfortably as a galley slave. He was always in funds, but how he
obtained them, or where he kept them, was a profound mystery to the very
last. With the money thus at his disposal he purchased extra food, he
bought the assistance of his fellows to relieve him of the severer
toils, and no doubt bribed his keepers. He became so fat and
round-faced, and generally so benignant and smiling, that he was
nicknamed by his comrades of the chain "Monsieur l'évêque." Numberless
attempts were made to discover the sources of his wealth; he was
supposed to have secreted a store of precious stones, but, although he
was watched and frequently searched, they were never found. He was
free-handed, too, with his money, gave freely to other convicts, and was
much esteemed by them. It is told of one who committed a murder in the
prison that, when permitted to address his comrades before execution,
after acknowledging their general kindness to himself, he added, "I wish
especially to thank Monsieur Collet." He did not live to return to
liberty, and died, only a few days before the end of his term, consumed
with despair at ending his days at the Bagne, but carrying with him the
secret of his wealth. Nine louis d'or only were found, in the collar of
his waistcoat; what had become of the rest no one could tell. He never
had money in the hands of the prison paymaster, he was never found in
the possession of more money than he was entitled to receive as prison
earnings, and yet, when he wanted it to gratify any expensive taste, to
buy white shirts, snuff, books, wine, or toothsome food, the gold flowed
from his hand as if by legerdemain.


Hardly less remarkable than Collet's adventures are those of Cognard, an
ex-convict, who, in the topsy-turvy times of the First Empire, came to
be colonel of a regiment, wearing many decorations and having a good
record of service in the field.

Pierre Cognard, when serving a sentence of fourteen years in the Bagne
of Brest, made his escape, and passed into Spain, where he joined an
irregular corps under the guerilla leader Nina, and gained the cross of
Alcantara. While in garrison in one of the towns of Catalonia, he made
the acquaintance of a person who had been a servant to Count Pontis de
Ste. Hélène, recently deceased. This servant had, by some means or
other, laid hands upon the Count's titles of nobility, and he now handed
them over to Cognard, who adopted the name and title without question.
Despite his antecedents, he appears to have displayed great strictness
in dealing with public money, and on one occasion denounced two French
officers whom he caught in malpractices. They turned on him, and accused
him of complicity. General Wimpfen ordered all to be arrested, but
Cognard resisted, and was only taken by force. He was relegated to a
military prison in the island of Majorca, from which he escaped with a
party of prisoners, who, having seized a Spanish brig in the harbour,
sailed in it to Algiers. There they sold their prize, and Cognard
crossed into Spain, which the French were occupying. The pretended Comte
was appointed to Soult's staff, took part in the later operations in the
Pyrenees, and was in command of a flying column at the battle of
Toulouse. After the abdication of Napoleon, he disappeared from sight,
but he was with the Emperor at Waterloo, where he acquitted himself

At the Restoration Cognard passed himself off as a grandee of Spain, who
had served Napoleon under pressure. Having demanded an audience of the
king, Louis XVIII., he seems to have had no difficulty in persuading
Louis that he was what he pretended; he was well received at Court, and
treated with distinction. During the Hundred Days Cognard accompanied
the king to Ghent, and made himself conspicuous everywhere as a member
of the Court. On the second Restoration he was nominated
lieutenant-colonel of the 72nd regiment, and formed part of the garrison
of Paris. He was now seemingly at the height of prosperity, but his
downfall was near at hand.

[Illustration: THE PLACE VENDÔME.]

There was a review one day in the Place Vendôme, and Cognard was present
at the head of his regiment. In the crowd of bystanders was a recently
liberated convict, named Darius, who had been at Brest with Cognard. The
ex-convict was struck by Cognard's likeness to an old comrade, and
asked the colonel's name. He was told it was the Count Pontis de Ste.
Hélène, a distinguished officer, much appreciated at the Court. Darius
was not satisfied, still holding to the idea that he had seen this face
at Brest. So when the parade broke up he followed the pretended count to
his house, and then asked if he might speak to him. After some
parleying, he was admitted to the presence of Cognard, whom he at once
addressed with the familiarity of an old friend. "Of course you know
me," said Darius. "I am glad to find you so well off. Do not think I
wish to harm you, but you are rich and I am needy. Pay me properly, and
I will leave you alone." Cognard indignantly repudiated the
acquaintance, and sent his visitor to the right-about. Darius was
furious, and would not let the matter rest there. He went straight to
the Ministry of the Interior, who sent him on to the War Office, where
he was received by General Despinois. "What proof can you give me,"
asked the War Minister, "of this extraordinary statement?" "Only
confront us," replied Darius, "and see what happens." Cognard was
forthwith summoned by an aide-de-camp, and promptly appeared at
headquarters. General Despinois treated him with scant ceremony,
charging him at once as an impostor. "But this can go on no longer,"
said the general. "You cannot humbug me or the Government; we know that
you are Cognard, the escaped convict." Cognard kept his countenance, and
merely asked to be allowed to fetch his credentials and other papers
from home. The general made no difficulty, but would not suffer Cognard
to go alone, and before he started he called in Darius.

Cognard was unable to control a slight movement of surprise, which did
not escape the quick eye of General Despinois. But now a fierce war of
words ensued between the pretended count and the other convict, to end
which Despinois sent Cognard, accompanied by an officer of gendarmes, to
fetch his papers. On the way Cognard inveighed against the lies that
were being told against him, and had no difficulty in gaining the
sympathy of his escort. Arrived at home, Cognard called for wine, and
begged the officer to help himself, while he passed into an adjoining
room to change his clothes. The other agreed readily enough, and
Cognard, finding his brother, who acted as his servant, close by,
changed into livery, and in a striped waistcoat, with an apron round his
waist, and a feather brush in his hand, quietly walked down the back
staircase and straight out of the house. The gendarmes who were on
sentry below did not attempt to interfere with this man-servant, and the
escape was not discovered until the officer above grew tired of waiting.
Now he knocked at the door of the next room, and peremptorily ordered
the count to come out. There was, of course, no Cognard to come out, and
the officer returned to the War Office without his prisoner.

Cognard now reverted to his old ways. He found a hiding-place with a
comrade, and remained there a couple of days, when he left for Toulouse.
The records do not say what he did in the provinces, but within a
fortnight he was back in Paris, and having joined himself to other
thieves, he made a nearly successful attempt to rob the bank at Poissy.
Laying a sum of two thousand francs in gold upon the counter, he asked
for a bill on Toulouse, and adroitly seized the key of the safe.
Cognard's demeanour did not please the cashier, and the bill was
refused. Then Cognard brusquely repocketed his money, and, still keeping
the key, made off. He was followed by cries of "Stop, thief!" but he got
away with all his comrades but one. This was the man with whom he
lodged, and the police, having obliged him to lead them to his domicile,
forced an entrance into Cognard's room, where they found a whole armoury
of weapons, a number of disguises, wigs, false whiskers and moustachios.
It was generally believed that these were to be worn in a grand attack
about to be made upon the _diligence_ from Toulouse. Cognard remained at
large for some little time, but a close watch was set upon his
movements, and he was eventually arrested by Vidocq, although he stoutly
defended himself, and wounded one of the police-officers with his
pistol. When brought to trial he was in due course condemned, and
sentenced to _travaux forcés_ for life.


Among our own compatriots Major Semple, _alias_ Lisle, has been handed
down as a champion swindler in his time, and he was certainly convicted
of frauds and thefts often enough to entitle him to a foremost place in
criminal records. But he could not have been wholly bad, for his
offences may be largely traced to ill

[Illustration: "HE WAS FOLLOWED BY CRIES OF 'STOP, THIEF!'" (p. 404).]

luck. The man was wanting in perseverance, steadiness, moral sense; he
succeeded in nothing, stuck to nothing long, and in the end became a
frank _vaurien_, a low-class adventurer, put to all sorts of shifts to
live. In his early days he had served with the colours, not without
distinction; had borne a commission and taken part in the American War
of Independence, in which he was wounded and made prisoner. When, after
his release, he was retired on a pension, he married a lady of good
family with some means. What afterwards befell him we do not know, but
he was a widower, or separated, when he became associated with Miss
Chudleigh, afterwards famous as the Duchess of Kingston, in her
expedition to St. Petersburg, where she set up a brandy distillery. It
was probably through her good offices that he was introduced to Prince
Potemkin, through whom he was appointed captain in a Russian regiment,
with which he made several campaigns. He was on the high road to rank
and honour; but in 1784 his roving disposition, and a certain discontent
at his prolonged exile, led him to resign his place and return to
England, where he was soon without resources, and lapsed into crime.

The first offence with which he was charged was the theft of a
postchaise which he hired and appropriated. His defence was that he had
only committed a breach of contract, but, as he had sold the article, it
was called felony, and he was convicted of a crime. His sentence was
seven years' transportation; but at this time he still had friends, and
some influential personages obtained a commutation of his punishment.
After a short stay in the hulks at Woolwich, awaiting transfer to Botany
Bay, he was pardoned on condition that he left the country forthwith.
This took him again to France, just then in the throes of the
Revolution, and he became actively concerned with Pétion, Roland, and
others in the events of that epoch. He was present at the king's trial,
but was soon afterwards denounced to the Committee of Public Safety as a
spy, and with difficulty escaped the guillotine. Once more this soldier
of fortune returned to his old profession, and joined the allied armies
now operating on the frontier against the French republic. He was
engaged in several important actions, and always distinguished himself
in the field.

Yet within a year or two the waters had again closed over him. He left
the Austrian army in a hurry, having been placed under arrest at
Augsburg; why, exactly, we do not know, presumably for some shady
conduct, the consequences of which he must have evaded, for he got back
to London, and was soon in serious trouble. He must have fallen into
great destitution, or he would not have been taken into custody for so
sorry an offence as obtaining a shirt and a few yards of calico on false
pretences. In the "Reminiscences" of Henry Angelo about this date (1795)
a side-light is thrown upon him and the petty devices he practised to
get a meal. He had become a confirmed cadger, and had introduced himself
to Angelo on the pretence of learning to fence. "Semple always stuck
close to us," writes Angelo, "took care to follow us home to our door,
and, walking in, stopped till dinner was placed on the table, when I
said, 'Captain' (no assumed major then), 'will you take your dinner with
us?' Though he always pretended to have an engagement, he obligingly put
it off, and did us the honour to stop. In the evening, if we were going
to Vauxhall, or elsewhere, he was sure to make one, and would have made
our house his lodging if I had not told him that all our beds were
engaged except my father's, and that room was always kept locked in his
absence. Our sponging companion continued these intrusions for about
three months, when suddenly he disappeared without paying for his
instruction or anything else. To write of his various swindling cheats,
so well known, would be needless."

The calico fraud ended in another sentence of transportation for seven
years, and again interest was made to spare him the penalty, but this
time without avail. He was shipped off, but on the voyage out escaped
convict life for a time. He was concerned with some of his felon
comrades in a mutiny on board the convict ship, and the authorities, to
be well rid of them, sent them, twenty-eight in number, adrift in the
Pacific in an open boat. They reached South America in safety, and,
passing themselves off as a shipwrecked crew, were well received by the
Spaniards. Semple was put forward as the leader, and described as a
Dutch officer of rank, thus gaining courteous treatment. He must have
been assisted to return to Europe, for he is next met with at Lisbon,
where his real character and condition came out, and he was arrested at
the request of the British Minister, who had him conveyed to Gibraltar.
He was still seemingly a free agent on the Rock, and misused his liberty
to enter into some mutinous conspiracy afoot in the garrison, for which
he was arrested and sent off to Tangier. Next year an order was issued
to capture and send him home to England, whence he was passed on a
second time to the Antipodes.

Semple survived to return again to England and to his old ways. For some
time he made a precarious living as a begging-letter writer, and the
same diarist, Angelo, preserves two specimens of Semple's
correspondence. One letter, however, is an impudent attempt to take
Angelo to task for daring first to cut him, then to expose him to the
ridicule of others. "This is not the sort of conduct I expect," said
Semple, "from a man bred in the first societies, and to which, however
innocent you think it, I cannot, must not submit.... Do not, I request
you, again expose yourself...." The outrage and the protest were both
forgotten when, nine years later, he wrote to Angelo, pleading that the
"sad urgency" of his situation "cannot be described. I am at this hour
without a fire (in February) and without a shirt.... Let me pray you to
accord me a little assistance, a few shillings." Angelo records that he
"sent the poor devil a crown in answer to his letter, which was most
probably a tissue of falsehoods designed to create sympathy."


(_From a Contemporary Engraving._)]



     Richard Coster--Sheridan, the American Bank Thief--Jack Canter--The
     Frenchman Allmayer, a typical Nineteenth Century
     Swindler--Paraf--The Tammany Frauds--Burton _alias_ Count von
     Havard--Dr. Vivian, a bogus Millionaire Bridegroom--Mock Clergymen:
     Dr. Berrington; Dr. Keatinge--Harry Benson, a Prince of Swindlers:
     The Scotland Yard Detectives suborned: Benson's Adventures after
     his Release: Commits Suicide in the Tombs Prison--Max Shinburn and
     his Feats.

It might be inferred from the previous chapter that mankind has been
easily duped in the past, and that a great superstructure of fraud has
often been raised upon a rather narrow basis. The swindler to-day
certainly works on larger, bolder lines; he is aided by the greater
complexity of modern life, he has more openings, and his operations are
of a wider, more varied, more interesting description, as will now be


In the long list of remarkable swindlers this man, who was perhaps the
most accomplished, and long the most successful of all, seldom finds
place. He first attracted notice in Bristol as a general agent and bill
discounter on a large scale, but nothing very positive is known as to
his antecedents except that at one time he drove a carrier's cart
between Oxford and London. He appears to have been industrious and
saving, so that he secured sufficient funds to start as a costermonger
with a horse and cart of his own. He presently established himself in
London, where he acquired a very large acquaintance among people who
were afterwards of immense use to him--horse copers, thieves, coiners,
and swindlers of all sorts. He was next heard of at Bristol, where,
however, his business did not prosper and his reputation was bad. Within
the year he was committed to prison on a charge of obtaining goods by
false pretences. Immediately after his release he again started, under
the name of Coster and Co., but moved back shortly to London.

Here his movements were erratic, and no doubt unavowable. He changed his
quarters continually, as well as his way of life. At one time he kept an
eating-house, at another he was an outside broker, again he was clerk to
a provision merchant. Soon afterwards he was the principal partner in
the firm of Coates and Smith, and also of Smith and Martin, general
merchants, acting apparently as financial agents. After two or three
years he blossomed out on a still larger scale in two places, as Young
and Co., in Little Winchester Street, and as Casey and Coster, near
Upper Thames Street. During these many changes and chances he did not
entirely escape the attentions of the law. In 1825 he was indicted, with
a confederate, Frederick Wilson, for a conspiracy to defraud. At the
following sessions he was charged with obtaining bills of exchange under
false pretences. Coster escaped conviction by paying on the bills which
he was supposed to have illegally obtained.

During these operations he attracted the notice of the Society for the
Suppression of Swindling, which had its eye constantly upon him, and
published his names and _aliases_ and innumerable addresses. It would be
tedious to catalogue them all: Hatton Garden, Queen's Arms Yard,
Parliament Street, under the name of Davies and Co., feather-bed
manufacturers; as Wright and Co., of Little Winchester Street, engaged
in the glove trade, and so on. The secretary to the Society for the
Protection of Trade reported in a circular that "Young, Richards and
Co., of Upper Thames Street; Young and Co., of Little Winchester Street;
Brown and Co., of the same address, are firms belonging to Richard
Coster, so often noticed."

At last, having tried all kinds of business--broker, bullion dealer,
coral dealer--he came out finally as a moneylender on a large scale in
New Street, Bishopsgate, whence he issued circulars headed
"Accommodation" in large type, and supported by the emblems of
Freemasonry, into which honourable craft he had entered under a feigned
name. The circular was addressed to "merchants, manufacturers, farmers,
graziers, tradesmen, and persons of respectability," at home or abroad,
and offered to accept and endorse any bills at any dates, and for any
amounts, or they might draw bills on any responsible houses in London
which should be regularly accepted from them when presented, provided
they enclosed a commission of eightpence in the pound when sending
advice of having drawn them. If they could not take up the bills when
due, they need only apply afresh (enclosing a fresh commission), when
the bills would be renewed, or fresh bills sent which they could
discount, and so pay the first set, and continue the same until their
own property or produce turned to advantage, and such temporary
accommodation was no longer required. "By this mode money to any amount
may be raised, according to the circumstances and situation of the
borrower, at about seven per cent. He must be a bad merchant," went on
this circular, "who cannot always make from 15 to 20 per cent. of money.
Some persons for want of knowing this system of raising money are
obliged to sacrifice their property by locking it up in mortgages for
one half its value, and spend the other half in paying solicitors'
enormous bills and expenses of mortgage deeds." All expenses were to be
borne by the borrower--postage, bill stamps, and the commission of
eightpence in the pound--and must be transmitted before the bills could
be accepted. References were also required, but the "strictest secrecy
and delicacy" would be observed in using them. The borrower might send
money or goods at any time to redeem bills, and the advertiser was ready
always to prove his own respectability.

Coster was long able to carry on his trade with great plausibility. He
succeeded mainly by reason of the number and variety of the firms of
which he was the sole proprietor. His was, indeed, one of the earliest
instances of "Long Firm frauds." When a transaction was to be carried
through by Young and Co. of Little Winchester Street, Brown and Co. of
Cushion Court answered all inquiries, declaring Young and Co. to be
persons of the highest credit. And this system he multiplied almost
indefinitely. The bills of exchange were freely accepted, the goods were
delivered when ordered without hesitation. Thus Coster secured a
consignment of the entire stock of a German wine-grower who was selling
off; on another occasion he got a large quantity of Dublin stout into
his hands; on a third a cargo of valuable timber. In none of these cases
did he pay out one single shilling as purchase money. The innumerable
aliases under which he carried on his transactions, and the care he took
never to appear in person, saved him from all danger of arrest. He was
represented by his agents, all of them creatures of his own, whom he had
bound to himself by some strong tie. They dared not call their souls
their own, and carried out his instructions implicitly, acting now as
principal, now as agent, just as he required. They were mostly decayed
tradesmen and persons in straitened circumstances, whom he "sweated" and
paid starvation wages--salaries of from ten to twenty shillings per
week. One man only he trusted as his right hand, Smith, whose name so
frequently figured in the firms he invented, and who was eventually
involved in his downfall.

[Illustration: BOTANY BAY IN 1825.

(_From an Aquatint by L. Lycett._)]

Coster's frauds became known to Alderman Sir Peter Laurie, who set
himself to unmask and convict him. It might have been more difficult had
not the villain added forgery to his lesser swindles. He began to
circulate bogus banknotes, and in February, 1833, sent to Honiton an
order for lace, enclosing three ten-pound notes in payment, all of which
were forged. Clark, the lacemaker, discovered the fraud, and forwarded
the notes to the solicitors of the Bank of England. A plan was laid for
the transmission of fictitious parcels to the address given by Coster,
"W. Jackson, at the Four Swans, Bishopsgate Street," and when Smith,
the assistant, applied for them he was arrested. Coster's complicity was
next ascertained, and he was secured. The letter ordering the lace
proved to be in his handwriting, but the strongest evidence against the
prisoner was that of two of his former instruments, who gladly turned
upon him. Coster was transported for life, Smith for a shorter term.


One of the most successful of modern criminal adventurers was the
American, Walter Sheridan, who was said to be the originator of the
great Bank of England forgeries for which the Bidwells were afterwards
punished. Some say that he was the moving spirit in the whole business,
but whether he did more than plan the affair may be doubted, and his
name was never mixed up with it. An eminent police officer of New York,
Mr. George W. Walling, states in his Reminiscences that Sheridan became
disgusted with the way in which the job was worked, and declined to be
further associated with such unsatisfactory partners. It is possible
that, had he been allowed to carry out "the job" in his own way, it
might have been accomplished without detection, to the more serious
discomfiture of the Bank.

[Illustration: WALTER SHERIDAN.]

Sheridan is a typical modern criminal, having great natural gifts,
unerring instinct in divining profitable operations, uncommon quickness
and astuteness in planning details and executing them. No one has better
utilised to his own advantage the numberless chances offered by the
intricate machinery of modern trade and finance. He began in the lower
lines of fraud. Full of an adventurous spirit, he ran away from his
home, a small farm in Ohio, when only a boy, resolved to seek fortune by
any means in the busy centres of life. St. Louis was his first point:
here he at once fell into bad company, and became associated with
desperadoes, especially those engaged in the confidence trick. In 1858,
when just twenty, he was caught and tried for horse-stealing, but just
before sentence escaped to Chicago, where he became the pupil of a
certain Joe Moran, a noted hotel thief, with whom he worked the hotels
around very profitably for two or three years. At last, however, he was
arrested and "did time."

On his release, Moran being dead, Sheridan took up a higher line of
business and became a "bank sneak," the clever thief who robs banks by
bounce or stratagem. In this business he was greatly aided by a fine
presence and an insinuating address. He was the life and soul of the
gang he joined, the brains and leader of his associates, and his
successes in this direction were many. With two confederates he robbed
the First National Bank of Springfield, Illinois, obtaining some 35,000
dollars from the vaults. Next he secured 50,000 dollars from a fire
insurance company; again, 37,000 dollars from the Mechanics' Bank of
Scranton. A very few years of this made him a rich man, and by 1867 he
was supposed to be worth some £15,000 or £20,000. He had gone latterly
into partnership with the notorious George Williams, commonly called
"English George," a well-known depredator and bank thief. About this
time he participated in the plunder of the Maryland Fire Insurance
Company of Baltimore, and fingered a large part of the 75,000 dollars
taken, in money and negotiable bonds, not one cent of which was ever
recovered. One of his neatest thefts was relieving Judge Blatchford, of
New York, of a wallet containing 75,000 dollars' worth of bonds.

Misfortune overtook him at last, and he failed in his attempt to rob the
First National Bank of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1870. One of his confederates
had laid hands on 32,000 dollars, but was caught in the act of carrying
off the packages of notes, and Sheridan was arrested as an accomplice.
He was very virtuously indignant at this shameful imputation, and his
bail was accordingly accepted for 7,000 dollars, which he at once
sacrificed and fled. But now the famous Pinkerton detectives were put
upon his track. Allan Pinkerton, who was assisted by his son William,
soon ascertained that Sheridan owned a prosperous hotel at Hudson,
Michigan, in which State he also possessed much landed property. The
Pinkertons took up their quarters at this hotel, which was under the
management of Sheridan's brother-in-law. Chiefly anxious, while
cautiously prosecuting inquiries, to secure a photograph of the man so
much wanted--for nothing of the kind was as yet in the hands of the
police authorities--young Pinkerton stuck at nothing to obtain this
valuable clue, and having ascertained where the family rooms were
located in the hotel, he broke in and captured an excellent likeness of
Sheridan, which was speedily copied and distributed among the various
Pinkerton agencies in the United States and beyond the Atlantic.

Sheridan about this time came in person to his hotel to visit his
relatives. The Pinkertons did not lay hands on him here among his
friends, but they shadowed him closely when he moved on, and by-and-by
captured him at Sandusky, Ohio. He was taken to Chicago, but made a
desperate attempt to escape, which was foiled, and he was eventually put
upon his trial. He retained the very best legal advice, paid large
sums--no less than £4,000--in fees, and was eventually acquitted through
the clever use of legal technicalities.

Sheridan, after this narrow escape from well-merited retribution, "went
East," and organised fresh depredations in new localities. They were
often on the most gigantic scale, thanks to his wonderful genius for
evil. The robbery of the Falls City Tobacco Bank realised plunder to the
value of £60,000 to his gang, and Sheridan, now at the very pinnacle of
his criminal career, must have himself been worth quite £50,000. In
these days he made a great external show of respectability, and
cultivated good business and social relations. This aided him in the
still larger schemes of forgery on which he now entered, the largest
ever known in the United States, which comprised the most gigantic
creation of false securities and bonds. It was an extraordinary
undertaking, slowly and elaborately prepared. Taking the name of
Ralston, he passed himself off as a rich Californian. He began to
speculate largely in grain, becoming a member of the Produce Exchange,
and obtaining large advances on cargoes of grain. At the same time he
kept a desk in a broker's office in Broadway as a basis of operations.
His next move was to gain the confidence of the President of the New
York Indemnity Company, to whom he represented that his mother held a
great number of railway bonds, on which he sought a large loan to cover
the purchase of real estate. Sheridan offered £25,000 worth of these
securities, and readily obtained an advance to a third of their value.
These bonds were all forgeries, but so faultless in execution that they
deceived the keenest eyes. It was not the only fraud of the kind,
although details of the rest are wanting. But it is generally believed
that the total losses incurred by the companies and institutions on whom
Sheridan forged amounted to nearly a million of money. Many Wall Street
brokers and a number of private investors were utterly ruined by these
wholesale frauds.


A little before the exposure Sheridan quietly gathered all his assets
together, divided the spoil, and crossed to Europe, carrying with him
£40,000 worth of the forged bonds, some of which he put upon the
European markets. Others of them were stolen from him in Switzerland by
a girl who said she had burned them, believing the police were about to
search the house for them. She had, however, given them secretly to her
father, who also realised on them. Sheridan at last took up his
residence in Brussels, where he lived like a prince, having forsworn his
own country, to which he never meant to return.

But he could not keep away from America, and he presently went back to
his fate, which was the entire loss of his ill-gotten gains. Under the
name of Walter A. Stewart, he turned up at Denver as a florist and
market gardener doing a large business. He presently established a bank
of his own and was caught by the speculative mania; he took to the
wildest gambling in mining stock, and by degrees lost every penny he
possessed. After this it was believed that he intended to organise a
fresh series of forgeries and he was closely watched by the Pinkertons.
They arrested him as he landed from the Pennsylvania ferry-boat, and,
brought to trial on no less than eighty-two indictments, including the
New York forgeries, he was sentenced to five years' imprisonment in Sing
Sing. After his release he was arrested for stealing a box of diamonds,
and yet again, as John Holcom, for being in possession of counterfeit
United States bills. He received two fresh sentences, to follow one on
the other, and as his health was already failing when he was last
apprehended, it is probable that he did not long survive. Now, at any
rate, the curtain has fallen upon him and his extraordinary career.


Another born American, who, between 1870 and 1880, achieved much evil
fame and high fortune, varied by long periods of eclipse, was Canter, a
criminal who, like Sheridan, possessed many natural gifts. Although at
forty-five he had spent more than half his life in gaol, he was still,
when at large, a man of distinguished appearance, with good looks and
pleasant manners, an accomplished linguist and expert penman. More, he
held a diploma as a physician, and had taken high honours in the medical
schools, while he sometimes contributed articles to the press written
with judgment and vigour. While in Sing Sing he was treated more like an
honoured guest than a felon "doing time," and had the pick of the many
snug billets provided in that easy-going prison for its most favoured
inmates. At one time he kept the gaol records, and thus had access to
the particulars of all other inmates, their antecedents, crimes,
sentences, and so forth. He turned this knowledge to good account, and
invented a system of tampering with the discharge book so as to reduce
the term of imprisonment of anyone for a stipulated sum. By the agency
of certain chemicals he erased entries and substituted others, all in
favour of the prisoner. He was not subjected to any prison rule save
detention for the allotted term, and this detention must have oppressed
him little, for he went in and out through the prison gates much as he
liked, drove a smart team of horses, and paid frequent visits to New
York to see his friends. It was greatly suspected that some of the
prison officials who winked at his escapades were also implicated in his

[Illustration: SING SING PRISON.]

After one of his releases from Sing Sing, in the beginning of 1873, he
created a Central Fire Insurance Company in Philadelphia, with a capital
of £40,000. The stock was long in good repute, and was held by many
respectable business men. Suspicion was, however, aroused, and the
Pinkertons being called in to investigate, they soon ascertained that
the assets of the company consisted of forged railway securities. The
fraud had been cunningly devised. A small quantity of genuine stock had
been purchased, and the figures had been altered to others much larger.
A ten-dollar share was converted into one for three or five hundred
dollars, and the whole assets of the company were practically nil.



Among swindlers of the 'eighties the Frenchman Allmayer takes a
prominent place, and may be regarded as a type of the nineteenth century
criminal; one who, although fairly well born, undeniably well educated,
and happy at home, where he was a favourite child, fell into evil
courses early in his teens. He had been placed on a stool in his
father's offices, and one day came across the cheque-book, which he
forthwith appropriated. There was a hue and cry for it, and it was soon
recovered. But one cheque was missing, which in due course was presented
at the bank with the forged signature of Allmayer's father, and duly
paid. By-and-by the fraud was discovered, and the author of it exposed
and sharply reprimanded, but that was all. Soon afterwards he again
swindled his father. He stole a registered letter containing notes, and
laid the blame on a perfect stranger. Now M. Allmayer _père_ ordered his
incorrigible son to enlist, and the young man joined a regiment of
dragoons, where he soon made many friends by squandering money belonging
to other people. To pay his debts he robbed his captain. Although he
managed to defer his trial by a clever escape from the military cells,
he was eventually sentenced to five years' imprisonment in the Cherche
Midi Military Prison of Paris, and passed thence to a discipline
battalion in Algeria.

On the expiration of his term he returned to Paris, and gained his
father's forgiveness. Taken into the bosom of the family, for some time
he lived a steady, respectable life, and might have done well, for he
had undoubted talents, and his friends were on the point of securing him
a good situation. The Allmayers lived at Chatou, and going up and down
the line to and from St. Lazare, he renewed his acquaintance with an old
school-friend, Edmond K., who gave him the run of his offices in Paris.
Monsieur K. about this time missed several letters, which always
disappeared from his table after Allmayer's visits. But he had no solid
reason to suspect his young friend, till one day something serious
occurred. Another Parisian banker, C., was asked through the telephone
by Monsieur K. at what price he would discount a bill for £1,600, drawn
on a London house and endorsed by K. The banker C. thought he recognised
K.'s voice; at any rate, he was pleased to do the business, for he had
often asked K. to open relations with him. C. accordingly quoted his
price, and was told by K. that the bill should be sent by a messenger,
to whom he could pay over its value in cash. Twenty minutes later the
bill was brought, and the money handed over. Next day, however, C.'s
London correspondent, to whom the bill had been transmitted for
collection, returned it so that some small irregularity in the
endorsement might be corrected. It was passed on to K., who declared at
once that he knew nothing of the endorsement, but that the bill itself
was one he had lost two months before. As for the cash paid by C., it
had not come into K.'s hands. Clearly there had been a crime, but who
were the guilty parties? Two clerks in K.'s office were suspected, and
as these young gentlemen had been imprudent enough occasionally to
imitate their employer's signature, merely as a matter of amusement,
they were arrested, and the case looked black against them. Allmayer,
however, obtained their release in the following manner.

From the first discovery of the fraud, Allmayer had taken a great
interest in the affair. Being K.'s intimate friend, he accompanied him
to the prefecture of police, and was called as a witness by the _juge
d'instruction_. Taking the judge aside, he privately told him a story
with that air of perfect frankness and plausibility which he found so
useful in his later career. He would confide to the judge the exact
truth, he said. The fact was that Monsieur K., being in pressing need of
money for his personal use, had himself abstracted the bill belonging to
his firm. Monsieur K. was then called in, and taxed by the judge with
the deed. K., utterly taken aback, protested, but in vain. Allmayer, who
was present, implored him to confess. The unfortunate man, still quite
bewildered, stammered and stuttered, and gave so many indications of
guilt that the judge committed him to Mazas. But as he was not quite
satisfied with Allmayer, who, moreover, had a "history," he sent him
also to prison. Now the Allmayer family intervened, and, strongly
suspecting that their son was really guilty, were glad to compromise the
affair. Both the prisoners were then released, and Allmayer thought it
prudent to cross the frontier. It was well he did so, for now the true
inwardness of the story was revealed. Allmayer had secured the
assistance of an old comrade in the Algerian discipline corps, whom he
had taken with him first to a public telephone office, where the
communication was made with the banker C. as though coming from K.'s
offices. Then Allmayer sent this old soldier to receive the money on the
bill, which he had appropriated some time previously. He pocketed the
proceeds, and kept the lion's share, for his comrade only got £200 and a
suit of new clothes. Next morning he warned him to make himself scarce,
declaring that all was discovered, and that he had better fly to
Algeria. When Allmayer's guilt was fully established, and he had been
arrested and brought back to Paris, a search was made for the soldier,
who was found in Algeria. In his pocket was a telegram from Allmayer
warning him that "Joseph" was after him, and advising him to go to New
York. Joseph, it must be understood, meant the detective-officer in

It seemed unlikely that Allmayer would leave the Mazas prison as easily
now as on his first visit. But he made one of the most daring and
successful escapes on record, passing through the gates of that gloomy
stronghold quite openly. As he had to be interrogated day after day by
the judge in his cabinet, he was taken to the prefecture, and managed,
while seated at the table facing the judge, to abstract, almost from
under that functionary's nose, a sheet of official paper and an official
envelope. This he accomplished by scattering his own papers, which were
very numerous, upon the table, and mixing the official sheets with his
own. He had already observed that the judge, in transmitting an order of
release for some prisoner in Mazas, had not used a printed form, but had
simply written a letter on a sheet of official paper. This was enough
for Allmayer, who, when once again in the privacy of his cell, concocted
the necessary order to the governor of Mazas, signed by the judge. This
was the first step gained, but such a letter must be stamped with the
judge's seal to carry the proper weight. One morning, as he sat before
the judge, he entered into an animated conversation with him, and
suddenly, with a violent gesture, upset the ink-bottle over the uniform
of the Garde de Paris who stood by his side. Allmayer, full of apology,
pointed to the water-bottle on the mantelpiece, the Guard rushed towards
it, the judge and the clerk following him with their eyes, and at that
moment Allmayer, who had already the seal in his hand, stamped his
letter. This was the second step. The third was to get his letter
conveyed by some official hand to Mazas. For this he devised a fresh
stratagem. On leaving the cabinet with his escort, he paused outside the
door and said he had forgotten something. He re-entered the cabinet, and
came out with his letter in his hand, saying indignantly, "The judge
thinks I am one of his servants. Here, you, Monsieur le Garde, you had
better carry this, or see it sent to Mazas." Allmayer had barely
returned to his cell in Mazas before a warder arrived with the welcome
news that the judge had ordered him to be set free. That same evening he
reached Brussels. As soon as his escape was discovered, the French
authorities demanded his extradition; but the legal forms had not been
strictly observed, and Allmayer was not surrendered. Belgium, however,
refused to give him hospitality, and he was conducted to the German
frontier, whence he gained the nearest port and embarked for Morocco.

At this time Allmayer was a gentlemanly, good-looking youth,


with fair complexion and rosy cheeks and a heavy light moustache, and
rather bald; his manners were so good, he was always so irreproachably
dressed, that he easily passed himself off for a man of the highest
fashion. He assumed many aliases, mostly with titles--the Vicomte de
Bonneville, the Comte de Motteville, the Comte de Maupas, and so on.
Sometimes he was satisfied with plain "Monsieur", and was then generally
Meyer or Mayer, which were his business names. His swindling was on a
large scale. He bought and sold sheep and wool, and it was admitted by
those whom he victimised that he had a natural talent for business. One
wool merchant whom he defrauded declared his surprise at finding this
smart young gentleman so fully at home in the quality and character of
the wools of the world. All this time he moved freely to and fro,
returning frequently to France from Morocco, passing boldly through the
capitals of Europe, staying even in Paris. The police knew he was there,
but could not lay hands upon him. It was at Paris, under the name of
Eugène Meyer, that he carried out one of his largest and most successful
frauds. He was arranging for a supply of arms to the Sultan of Morocco,
when he mentioned casually that a sum of £30,000 was owing to him by one
of the largest bankers in Paris, who held his acceptance for the sum.
The people present were willing enough to discount this acceptance, but
the amount was too large to deal with as a whole. Meyer solved the
difficulty by saying he would have it broken up into bills for smaller
amounts, which, in effect, he produced, and which were willingly
discounted. By-and-by it came out that the bills were forged, and those
who held them were arrested; but Allmayer was gone. All he did was to
write to the papers exonerating his unconscious accomplices, and
offering to appear at their trial if the police would guarantee him a
safe-conduct. But the police refused, and his unfortunate confederates
were condemned.

Much astonishment and some indignation were expressed in Paris at the
carelessness of the police in allowing Allmayer to remain at large. Yet
all the time the detectives were at his heels, and followed him all over
Europe--to Belgrade, to Genoa, back to Paris. At Marseilles he robbed a
merchant, Monsieur R., of 20,000 francs by pretending to secure for him
a contract for the French Government for sheep. It would be necessary,
however, as he plausibly put it, to remit the above-mentioned sum
anonymously to a certain high functionary. Allmayer attended at Monsieur
R.'s office to give the address, which he himself wrote upon an envelope
at Monsieur R.'s table. This done, Monsieur R. inserted the notes, and
the letter was left there upon the blotting-pad--at least, so Monsieur
R. believed, but Allmayer by a dexterous sleight of hand had substituted
another exactly similar, while that with the notes was safely concealed
in his pocket. It is said that the high functionary received a letter
containing nothing but a number of pieces of old newspaper carefully cut
to the size of bank notes, and did not understand it until, later on,
Monsieur R. wrote him a letter of sorrowful reproach at not having kept
his word by giving the contract in exchange for the notes.

Still Allmayer pursued his adventurous career without interference, and
the police were always a little too late to catch him. They heard of him
at Lyons, where he passed as a cavalry officer and gave a grand banquet
to his old comrades in the garrison; again, at Aix they were told of a
sham Vicomte de Malville, who had played high at the casino, and
unfairly, but he was gone before they could catch him. At Biarritz he
signalised his stay by cheating, borrowing, and swindling on every side.
The commissary of police at Bordeaux was warned to keep his eye upon
this person, who passed as Monsieur Mario Magnan, but the commissary
imprudently summoned the suspected person to his presence, and blurting
out the story, gave Allmayer the chance of escape before the Parisian
police arrived to arrest him. He had gone ostensibly to Paris, but his
baggage was registered to Coutrai. The detective followed to Coutrai,
and found that his quarry had gone on to Havre with several hours'
start. The man wanted was hunted for through Havre, but the covert was
drawn blank till all at once, by that strange interposition of mere
chance that so often tells against the criminal, the detectives came on
him on the Boulevard Strasbourg, a perfect gentleman, fashionably
dressed, with a lady on his arm in an elegant toilette. They laid hands
on him a little doubtfully at first, but it proved to be Allmayer,
although he vigorously denied his identity. This was practically the end
of his criminal career, for he was speedily transferred to Paris and
committed for trial, being located this time in the Conciergerie, under
the constant surveillance of two police officers. Even there his mind
was actively employed in planning escape; the scheme he tried was that
of confiding to the head of police the whereabouts of a hidden
receptacle of certain thieves, who had collected a quantity of plunder.
If the officers would take him there, he would show them the place; it
was in the Rue St. Maur, at Ménilmontant. But the authorities were not
to be imposed upon, and, by inquiring elsewhere, learnt that the whole
story was a fabrication. Allmayer had arranged that on arrival at the
ground he should be rescued by a number of friends assembled for the

The secret of his many successes was that he was a consummate actor, and
could play any part. Now an officer, he was cordially welcomed by his
brothers in arms; at the watering-places and health resorts he posed and
was accepted as a gentleman of rank and fashion; in commercial circles
he appeared a quick and intelligent man of business. He practised the
same art, but in quite a different direction, at his trial. A great
interest was excited in Paris by the arrest of this notorious swindler,
so clever at disguises, so bold in his schemes, who had so long set the
police at defiance. Yet when he appeared in court he disappointed
everyone, and showed up as a poor, timid, broken-backed creature, half
imbecile, surely incapable of the daring crimes attributed to him. He
told a rambling disconnected story of how he was wrongfully accused,
that the chief agent in all these affairs was an old prison-bird whose
acquaintance he had unhappily made, and who had bolted, leaving him to
bear all the blame. His abject appearance and his poor, weak defence
gained him the pity of his judges, and, instead of the heaviest, the
lightest sentence was imposed upon him. All this was a clever piece of
acting; he had assumed the part for the purpose which he had achieved.

Allmayer was sentenced to twelve years' transportation, and he was last
heard of in the Safety Islands, where he was employed as a hospital
nurse, and had made himself very popular with his keepers. Someone who
met him not long since describes him as still prepossessing, bright,
intelligent eyes, fluent as ever in speech, but with a singularly false
face. By-and-by he may reappear to despoil his more confiding fellows
once more, and be the despair of the police.


This man was an extraordinary swindler who amassed considerable sums by
his frauds. He came of a really good stock, and might have earned fame
and fortune had he not been afflicted with incurably low tastes. Paraf
was born about 1840 of a respectable family in Alsace; he was highly
educated, and became a brilliant and expert chemist. The elder Paraf,
his father, was a calico manufacturer, and he gladly placed his son at
the head of his print works, where the young man's knowledge and
intelligence were most valuable. But once, while making a tour through
Scotland, his funds ran short, and his father would not supply him with
more money. So he carried an alleged newly discovered dye to a Glasgow
manufacturer, and sold it for several thousand pounds, which sum,
passing over to Paris, he quickly squandered in dissipation. The dye was
worthless, but Paraf was not wholly an impostor, for, when once more
penniless, he joined forces with his old professor in Paris, and
together they discovered the famous aniline dyes. Paraf brought this
invention to England, patented it, and sold it for a considerable sum.
No doubt he would have made a great deal of money had he run straight,
but he was an absolute spendthrift, and parted speedily with all he had.
When utterly destitute, he stole the patent for another dye from a
friend, and sold it to his uncle in Paris for a couple of thousand
pounds. With what was left of this sum he started for America, and
landed in New York, where he was well received. Of engaging person and
frank manners, he gained the friendship and confidence of several
capitalists, to one of whom he sold an aniline black dye for £12,000. He
now launched out into a career of wild extravagance; he occupied
magnificent rooms at a first-class hotel, bathed in sweet-scented
waters, and gave sumptuous dinners at Delmonico's. His money did not
last long, and he had recourse to fresh swindles. His next transaction
was the sale of an alleged cloverine dye to a damask manufacturer, and
he persuaded Governor Sprague, of Rhode Island, to invest £100,000 in a
madder dye, which proved a failure. Then he became acquainted with a
Frenchman, Monsieur Mourier, who invented oleo-margarine, the process of
which Paraf stole from him and fraudulently sold to a New York firm.
Mourier established his prior claim to the invention, and the firm had
to buy their rights afresh.

After this Paraf found New York too hot for him. He went south to Chili,
and promoted a company to extract gold from copper, but found it easier
to extract it from other people's pockets. This latest escapade finished
him, for he was pursued and cast into prison, where he died.


The fact has often been noticed that crime takes larger developments
to-day than heretofore. Schemes are larger, the plunder is greater, the
depredator travels over wider areas. He is often cosmopolitan; his
transactions include the capitals of Europe, the great cities beyond the
Atlantic, in India, and at the Antipodes. The immensity of the hauls
made by daring swindlers misusing their powers as the guardians of
public funds, was well shown in the Tammany frauds in the 'seventies,
when "Boss" Tweed and his accomplices stole millions from the taxpayers
of New York. The frauds which they successfully accomplished amounted,
it was said, to twenty million dollars. They had an annual income of
about that sum to play with, and they ran up as well a city debt of
about a hundred million dollars. At that time the municipal
administration of New York was abominably bad; the city was wretchedly
lighted, badly paved, and the police protection not only imperfect but
untrustworthy. The Tammany frauds were exposed, as we know, by an
Englishman, Mr. Louis Jennings, the representative of the _Times_ in New
York, who, coming by chance upon the fringe of the frauds, pursued his
clue, despite many disheartening failures, until he obtained full
success. He found that a most elaborate system of fraudulent entry in
the city books covered the misappropriation of enormous sums. It was the
custom to pay over hundreds of thousands of dollars, for work that was
never accomplished, to persons who were either men of straw or had no
corporeal existence. Thus £120,000 was charged for carpets in the Court
House, and on inspection it was found that this Court House floor was
covered with a common matting barely worth £20. In another building the
plastering figured at £366,000, and the furniture, which consisted of a
few stools and desks, ran up to a million and a half sterling. No wonder
that in these glorious times "Boss" Tweed and his merry men became
millionaires, having been penniless adventurers before. They kept steam
yachts, drove fast trotters, their wives wore priceless diamonds, and
they gave princely entertainments in brownstone mansions in Fifth Avenue
and Madison Square. When fate at last overtook them, and landed most of
them in the State prison, the ample funds at their disposal enabled them
still to make life tolerable, and I myself have seen one or two of these
most notorious swindlers smoking large cigars and lounging over novels
in their snug cells at Sing Sing.


(_From a Cartoon in "Harper's Weekly"_ [1872].)]


Compared with these top-sawyers and high-flyers in crime we have little
to show on this side of the Atlantic; but I may mention one or two
notorious swindlers of these latter days, remarkable in their way for
the dexterity and the pertinacity with which they pursue their nefarious
trade. Every now and again the police lay their hands on some fine
gentleman who is well received in society, like Benson, bearing some
borrowed aristocratic name, but who is really an ex-convict repeating
the game that originally got him into trouble. There was the man Burton,
as he was generally called, who rejoiced in many aliases, such as
Temple, Bouverie, Wilmot, St. Maur, Erskine, and many more, and whose
career was summarily ended in 1876, when, as Count von Havard, he was
sentenced to five years' penal servitude for obtaining money by fraud.
This man's character may be gathered from the police description of him
when he was once more at large. He was described as a native of
Virginia, in the United States; was supposed to be a gentleman by birth
and education, and spoke English with a slightly foreign accent. The
police notice went on to say that he was "an accomplished swindler, an
adept in every description of subterfuge and artifice; he tells lies
with such a specious resemblance to truth that numerous persons have
been deceived by him to their cost. He is highly educated, an excellent
linguist, and also skilled in the dead languages, and his good address
has obtained him an entrance into the very highest society abroad. By
the adroit use of secret information of which he has become possessed he
has extorted large sums as blackmail. One of his devices is to enter
into a correspondence with relatives of deceased persons, leading them
to suppose they are _bénéficiaires_ under wills, and thus obtain money
to carry on preliminary inquiries. He frequently makes his claim through
a respectable solicitor, whom he first dupes with an account of his
brilliant connections and prospects. He represents himself as the son of
a foreign nobleman, De Somerset St. Maur Wilmot, and claims relationship
with several distinguished persons."

He was in reality a very old offender, who had done more than one
sentence in this country, and had probably known the interior of many
foreign prisons. His operations extended throughout Europe, and he had
visited the principal health resorts and holiday places of the
Continent, such as Biarritz, Homburg, Ostend; and this constant movement
to and fro no doubt helped him to elude the police.





Another man of the same stamp, calling himself Dr. Vivian, of New York,
burst upon the world of Birmingham, about 1884 as a man of vast wealth,
which he spent with a most lavish hand. He stopped at the best hotel in
the town, the Queen's, and got into society. One day, at a flower-show,
he was introduced to a Miss W., to whom he at once paid his addresses,
and made such rapid progress in her good graces that they were married
by special licence a week or two later. The wedding was of the most
splendid description; the happy bridegroom had presented his wife with
quantities of valuable jewellery, and he was so well satisfied with the
arrangements at the church that he gave the officiating clergyman a fee
of £500. After a magnificent wedding breakfast at the Queen's Hotel, the
newly married couple proceeded to London, and were next heard of at the
Langham, living in the most expensive style. The bridegroom spent large
sums among the London tradesmen, and, strange to say, invariably paid
cash. All this time a man who had much the appearance of Dr. Vivian was
greatly wanted by the police; the person in question had been down in
Warwickshire a few months previous to the arrival of Dr. Vivian at
Birmingham. This person was strongly suspected of a theft at an hotel at
Whitchurch. A visitor at the hotel had been robbed one night of a
certain sum in cash and a number of very valuable old coins. Now the
police became satisfied that Dr. Vivian and the man wanted for this
theft were one and the same person, and the authorities of Scotland Yard
took the decided step of arresting him. They went farther, and had the
audacity to declare that the so-called Dr. Vivian was one James Barnet,
otherwise George Percy, otherwise George Guelph, a notorious convict,
only recently released after a term of ten years' penal servitude.

When arrested, Vivian, as we will still call him, was found to be in
possession of a large amount of money, much more than could have come
from the hotel robbery at Whitchurch; he had a roll of notes to the
value of some two thousand pounds, and a great deal of gold. The
impression was that a part of this was the proceeds of another hotel
robbery from a bookmaker at Manchester. The notes, however, when
examined, were found to be all of one date, some ten or twelve years
back, antecedent to his last conviction, and it seemed most improbable
that he could have come upon these in the ordinary way of robbery. It
was far more likely that they were forged notes (although this was never
proved) which had been "planted" safely somewhere while he was at large,
and that on his release he had drawn upon the deposit. At the same time
there had been some serious thefts at the Langham Hotel during the
prisoner's honeymoon residence, and there is very little doubt that
Vivian, _alias_ Barnet, was an accomplished hotel thief. Many curious
facts came out while he was in custody. He was identified as a man who
had wandered from hotel to hotel in the Midlands, changing his
appearance continually, but not enough to defy detection. He carried
with him a large wardrobe as his stock-in-trade, and was seldom seen in
the same suit of clothes two days together. He had had several narrow
escapes, and before his final escapade had been arrested in Derby by a
detective, who was pretty certain that he had "passed through his
hands." The accumulated evidence against him was strong, and when put
upon his trial for the particular theft at the Whitchurch hotel, he was
found guilty and sentenced to another ten years' seclusion.


The convict swindler when at large has many lines of operation, and a
favourite one is the assumption of the clerical character. This is
generally done by criminals who at one time or another have been in holy
orders, and have been unfrocked for their misdeeds. Dr. Berrington was a
notable instance of this. Although he was repeatedly convicted of
performing clerical functions, for which he was altogether disqualified,
he kept up the game to the last. In one of his short periods of freedom
he had the effrontery to take the duties of a country rector, and, as
such, accepted an invitation to dine at a neighbouring squire's. Strange
to say, the carriage which he hired from the livery stables of the
nearest town was driven by a man who, like himself, was a
licence-holder, and who had last seen his clerical fare when they were
both inmates of Dartmoor prison. Berrington had no doubt been in the
Church at one time, and was a ripe scholar. The story goes that during
one of his imprisonments he was amusing himself in the school hour with
a Hebrew grammar. "What! Do you know Hebrew?" said a visitor to the gaol
who was passing through the ward. "Yes," replied Berrington, "and I
daresay a great deal better than you do."

There was another reverend gentleman, who was an ordained priest in the
Church of England, and had once held an Irish living worth £400 a year,
but had lost every shilling he was worth on the turf. One day, when
seized with the old gambling mania, he made an improper use of a
friend's cheque-book. He was staying at this friend's house, and forged
his name, having found the cheque-book accessible. He was soon
afterwards arrested on Manchester racecourse, and, after trial,
sentenced to transportation for life.

In December, 1886, another clerical impostor caused some noise, and
there is some reason to suppose from his own story that he had actually
been ordained a priest in the Church of Rome. This rests on his own
statement, no doubt, made when on his trial in Dublin for obtaining
money under false pretences, the latest of a long series of similar
offences. At that time he rejoiced in several aliases, Keatinge being
the commonest, but he was also known as Moreton, with many variations of
Christian names. His offence was that he had received frequent help from
the Priests' Protection Society, on the pretence that he had left the
Church of Rome and that his abjuration of the old faith had left him in
great distress. The society on these grounds had made him an allowance,
and he had often preached and performed clerical duty in Dublin
churches. He was charged with having falsely represented himself to be a
clergyman in holy orders, but his own story was very precise and
circumstantial. Keatinge made out that he had studied at Stonyhurst and
then at St. Michael's College, Brussels; thence he went to Rome, was
admitted to orders, and for some time held the post of Latin translator
and general secretary to Cardinal Pecci of Perugia, afterwards Pope Leo
XIII. After that, he said, he became chaplain and secretary to Cardinal
d'Andrea, and was soon afterwards given the degree of Doctor of Divinity
and made a Monsignore. He declared that he had become involved in the
political struggle between Cardinal d'Andrea and Cardinal Antonelli, and
was imprisoned with the former in the latter Cardinal's palace. From
that time forth Dr. Keatinge was the victim of constant persecution, but
at last escaped from Rome, by the assistance of a lady, who afterwards
became his wife, when he had seceded from the Roman Church. After that
he appears to have lapsed into a life of vagabondage and questionable
adventure. He suffered many convictions, mostly for false pretences, and
the Dublin affair relegated him once more to gaol.


One of the most daring and successful of modern swindlers was Harry
Benson, who came into especial prominence in connection with the
Goncourt frauds and the disloyalty of certain London detectives. His was
a brief and strangely romantic career of crime; he was not much more
than forty when it terminated with his death, yet he had netted vast
sums by his ingenious frauds, and had long lived a life of cultured
ease, respected and outwardly most respectable. He came of very decent
folk; his father was a prosperous merchant, established in Paris, with
offices in the Faubourg St. Honoré, and a person of undeniably good
repute. Young Benson was well and carefully educated: he spoke several
languages with ease and correctness; he was a good musician, was well
read, had charming manners, a suave and polished address. But from the
earliest days his moral sense was perverted; he could not and would not
run straight. Benson belonged by nature to the criminal class, and if we
are to believe Lombroso and the Italian school, he was a born criminal.
All his tastes and predilections were towards fraud and foul play.

Young Benson seems to have first made his appearance in Brussels in
1870-71, when he was prominent among the French refugees who left France
at the time of the Franco-German war. He had assumed the name and title
of the Comte de Montague, pretending to be the son of a General de
Montague, an old Bonapartist. He lived in fine style, had carriages and
horses, a sumptuous _appartement_, gave many entertainments, and was
generally a very popular personage, much esteemed for his great
courtliness and his pleasant, insinuating address. Nothing is known of
the sources of his wealth at this period, but his first trouble with the
law came of a nefarious attempt to add to them. One day the Comte de
Montague called at the Mansion House, in London, and besought the Lord
Mayor's charitable aid for the town of Châteaudun, which had suffered
much from the ravages of the war. Money was being very freely subscribed
to relieve French distress at the time, and the Comte had no difficulty
in obtaining a grant of a thousand pounds for Châteaudun. This he at
once proceeded to apply to his own needs, for the Comte was no other
than Benson. His imposture was presently discovered, and he paid a
second visit to the Mansion House, but this time as a prisoner. The
escapade ended in a sentence of a year's imprisonment, during which he
appears to have set his cell on fire and burned himself badly. He was
ever afterwards lame, and obliged to use crutches; an unmistakable
addition to his _signalement_ which would have seriously handicapped any
less audacious offender.

The more extensive of the operations in which Benson was engaged
followed upon his release from gaol. He was estranged from his family in
Paris, and, being obliged to earn his own living, he advertised himself
as seeking the place of secretary, giving his knowledge of several
languages as one of his qualifications. This brought him into connection
with a man who was to be his confederate and partner in many nefarious
schemes. A certain William Kurr engaged him, and they soon came to an
understanding, becoming associated on equal terms. Kurr was a very shady
character, who had tried several lines of life. From clerk in a railway
office he passed into the service of a West End money-lender, and then
became interested in turf speculations. The business of illegitimate
betting attracted him as offering great opportunities for acquiring
fortune, and he was the originator of several sham firms and bogus
offices, none of which prospered greatly until he fell in with Benson.
From that time forth their operations were on a much bolder and more
successful scale. Benson's ready wit and inventive genius struck out new
lines of procedure, and there is little doubt that quite early in the
partnership he conceived the happy idea of suborning the police. Kurr,
under the name of Gardner and Co., of Edinburgh, had come under
suspicion, and was being hotly pursued by a detective officer,
Meiklejohn, who had been chosen from among the Scotland Yard officers to
act for the Midland Railway in the north. When the scent was hottest,
Kurr, by Benson's advice, approached Meiklejohn and bought him over.
This was the first step in a great conspiracy which presently involved
other officers, who weakly sacrificed honour and position to the
specious temptations of these scoundrels.

Benson, being half a Frenchman, and intimately acquainted with French
ways, saw a great opening for carrying on turf frauds in France. The
firm accordingly moved over to French soil, and elaborated with great
skill and patience a vast scheme for entrapping the unwary. They first
worked carefully through the directories, Bottin's and others, in order
to obtain the names and addresses of likely victims; when eventually
they were brought to justice some of these books were found in Benson's
quarters, much marked and annotated. At the same time they prepared an


attractive circular, setting forth in specious terms the extraordinary
advantages of their system of betting. This circular was distributed
broadcast through the country, accompanied by a copy of a sporting paper
specially prepared for this particular purpose. It was the only copy of
the paper that ever appeared, although it was numbered 1,713. It had
been printed on purpose in Edinburgh, and was in every respect a
complete journal, containing news up to date, advertisements, leading
articles, columns of paragraphs and notices, several of which referred
in the most complimentary language to a Mr. Hugh Montgomery--Benson's
_alias_ in this fraud--and the excellence of his system of betting
investment. It stated that this Mr. Hugh Montgomery, who had invented
the system, had already netted nearly half a million of money by
following its principles, and it was open to any to reap the same
handsome profit. They had only to remit funds to the firm at any of
their numerous offices in London, at Cleveland Road, Duke Street St.
James's, and elsewhere.

This brilliant scheme soon brought in a rich harvest. Many simple-minded
French people swallowed the bait, and none more readily than a certain
Comtesse de Goncourt, a lady of good estate, but with an unfortunate
taste for speculation. The comtesse threw herself eagerly into the
arrangement, and forwarded several substantial sums to London, which
were duly invested for her with good results; for the old trick was
followed of at first allowing her to win. Presently her transactions
grew larger, till at last they reached the sum of £10,000. Several bogus
cheques were sent her, purporting to be her winnings, but she was
desired to hold them over until a certain date, in accordance with the
English law. Yet these rapacious scoundrels were not satisfied with such
large profits. They wrote to the poor comtesse that another £1,200 was
necessary to complete certain formalities. As she was now nearly cleaned
out, she tried to raise the money in Paris through her notary, and this
led to the discovery of the whole fraud.

Meanwhile the conspirators had been living in comfort, pulling the wires
from London. Benson had made himself safe, as he thought, by extending
his system of suborning the police. Through Meiklejohn, a second
officer, Druscovitch by name, who was especially charged with the
Continental business of Scotland Yard, was approached and tempted. He
was a well-meaning man, with a good record, but in very straitened
circumstances, and he fell before the tempting offers of the insidious
Benson. All this time Benson was living in good style at Shanklin, in
the Isle of Wight. He had a charming house, named Rose Bank, a good cook
and numbers of other servants, he drove a good carriage, and constantly
entertained his friends. One of his accomplishments was music; he
composed and sang charming French _chansonettes_ with so much feeling
that they were always loudly encored. Benson soon tried to inveigle
another fly from Scotland Yard into his web. Scenting danger from the
news that Inspector Clarke was hunting up certain sham betting offices,
he invited him down to his little place at Shanklin. Benson did not
succeed with Clarke, who, when placed on his trial with the other
inspectors, was acquitted. He must have been sorely tried, for Benson
showed consummate tact, and cleverly acted upon Clarke's fears by
seeming to incriminate him. Then he offered a substantial bribe, which,
however, Clarke was honest enough to refuse.

When the storm broke Benson had early notice of the danger from his
allies in the police. Druscovitch warned them that a big swindle had
come in from Paris; it was theirs. Already the French police had begun
to act against the firm. They had requested the Scotland Yard
authorities, by telegraph, to intercept letters from Paris which, it was
believed, contained large remittances. But Benson contrived to secure
this telegram before it was delivered. Knowing that he had good friends,
he held his ground; Druscovitch, on the other hand, became more and more
uneasy, thinking that he could not shield his paymasters much longer. He
had many secret interviews with them, and pleaded desperately that he
must ere long arrest somebody, and he warned Benson to look out for
himself. It was time for the conspirators to think about their means of
retreat. So far they seem to have held the bulk of their booty in Bank
of England notes, a very tell-tale commodity which could always be
traced through the numbers. Benson solved this difficulty by deciding to
change the Bank of England notes into Scottish notes, the numbers of
which were not invariably taken on issue. Through Meiklejohn Benson got
rid of £13,000 worth, travelling down to Alloa on purpose and getting
Clydesdale Bank notes in exchange. To cover this operation, Benson had
deposited £3,000 in the Alloa Bank. He was on very friendly terms with
its manager, and was actually at dinner with him when a telegram was put
into his hands warning him to decamp, for Druscovitch was on his way
down with the warrant to arrest him. Benson bolted, but was, of course,
obliged to forfeit his deposit of £3,000.

When Druscovitch arrived his game, of course, was gone. He still
attempted to linger over the job, but the authorities were more in
earnest than he was, and England became too hot for him. The exchange of
Bank of England into Clydesdale notes was known, and so were some of the
numbers of the latter. A watch was therefore set upon the holders of
these notes, and Benson thought it wiser to escape to Holland. Soon
after his arrival at Rotterdam he and his friends were arrested. But
here, at the closing scene, while extradition was being demanded,
another confederate, Froggatt, a low-class attorney, nearly succeeded in
obtaining their release. He sent a forged telegram to the Dutch police,
purporting to come from Scotland Yard, to the effect that the men they
had got were the wrong people. The imposition was discovered just in
time, and the prisoners were handed over to a party of London police,
headed, strange to say, by Druscovitch in person. His complicity with
the swindlers was not yet suspected, and he was compelled to carry out
his orders. What passed between him and his friends is not exactly
known, but Kurr and Benson, after the manner of their class, had no idea
of suffering alone. That they should turn on their police assistants was
a matter of course, and one of their first acts in Millbank Prison,
where they were beginning their long terms of penal servitude, was to
make a clean breast of it and implicate the detectives.

When Clarke, Druscovitch, Meiklejohn, and Palmer, with Froggatt, were
put upon their trial, the facts, as already stated, were elicited, and
it was found that the swindlers had long secured the connivance and
support of all these officers, except Clarke. A letter, which was
impounded, written by Meiklejohn to Kurr as far back as 1874, shows how
eager Meiklejohn was to earn his money. It was an early notification of
the issue of a warrant, and warned his friends to keep a sharp look

     "DEAR BILL,--Rather important news from the North. Tell H. S. and
     the Young One to keep themselves quiet. In the event of a smell
     stronger than now they must be ready to scamper out of the way."

For this important service Meiklejohn is believed to have received a
_douceur_ of £500. All these misguided men were sentenced to terms of
imprisonment, and, as I have said before, the discovery of their
faithlessness led to important changes in police constitution, and the
creation of the Criminal Investigation Department.

I can remember Benson while he was a convict at Portsmouth, where he was
employed at light labour, and might be seen hobbling on his crutches at
the tail end of the gangs as they marched in and out of prison. He bore
an exemplary prison character and was


released on ticket-of-leave in 1887, having fully earned his remission.
He was not long in seeking new pastures, and soon used his versatile
talents and many accomplishments in fresh schemes of fraud. It was his
duty to report himself as a licence holder to the Metropolitan Police,
but this did not suit so erratic a genius, and within a few months he
was advertised for in the _Police Gazette_, a woodcut engraving of his
features being accompanied with the following description of the man

     "Age 39, height 5 ft. 4 in., complexion sallow, hair, whiskers,
     beard, and moustache black (may have shaved), turning slightly
     grey, eyes brown, small scar under right eye, frequently pretends
     lameness, has a slouching gait, stoops slightly, head thrown
     forward, invariably smoking cigarettes."

It will be seen from this that the use of crutches was not indispensable
to him, but was probably assumed as a means of contusing his
_signalement_. His many aliases were published with the description;
some of the more remarkable were George Marlowe, George Washington
Morton, Andrew Montgomery, Henry Younger (the name he went under at Rose
Bank Cottage, Shanklin), Montague Posno, and the Comte de Montague.

Benson's first act after release appears to have been to ascertain
whether he had inherited anything from his father, whose death had
occurred while he was in prison. Nothing had come to him, but his family
did not quite disown him, for a brother offered to find him a situation.
This Benson contemptuously refused, and took the first opportunity of
reopening his relations with Kurr, who had been released a little
earlier. Soon after this the police missed them, and they appear to have
crossed the Atlantic and started in a new line as company promoters,
mainly in connection with mines of a sham character. Benson seems to
have done well in this nefarious business before he returned to Europe,
when he made Brussels his headquarters and carried on the same business,
the exploitation of mines. He appears to have gained the attention of
the police, and the Belgian authorities communicated with those of
Scotland Yard. Benson was now identified and arrested. At his lodgings
were found a great quantity of letters containing Post Office orders and
cheques, which seem to have been sent to him for investment in his bogus
companies. Benson next did a couple of years' imprisonment in a Belgian
prison, and on his release transferred himself to Switzerland, setting
up at Geneva as an American banker with large means. He stopped at the
best hotels and betrayed all his old fondness for ostentation. Here he
received many telegrams from his confederates, who were still "working"
the United States, all of them connected with stocks and shares and the
fluctuations of the market. He was in the habit of leaving these
telegrams--which invariably dealt with high figures--about the hotel,
throwing them down carelessly in the billiard-room, smoking-room, and
other apartments, where they were read by others, and greatly enhanced
his reputation.

[Illustration: A PRISON GANG.]

At this hotel he became acquainted with a retired surgeon-general of the
Indian army, with an only daughter, to whom he made desperate love. He
lavished presents of jewellery upon her, and so won upon the father that
he consented to the marriage. The old man was no less willing to
entrust his savings to this specious scoundrel, and on Benson's advice
sold out all his property, some £7,000 invested in India stock. The
money was transmitted to Geneva and handed over to Benson in exchange
for certain worthless scrip which was to double the doctor's income.
Now, however, a telegram summoned Benson to New York, and he left
hurriedly. His _fiancée_ followed to the port at which he had said he
would embark, but missed him. Mr. Churchward--Benson's _alias_--had gone
to another place, Bremen, to take passage by the North German Lloyd. The
surgeon-general, trembling for his earnings, applied for a warrant, and
Benson was arrested as he was on the point of embarkation. He was taken
back to Geneva, but on refunding £5,000 out of the £7,000 he was
liberated. It was now discovered that his presents to his _fiancée_ were
all in sham jewellery, and that the scrip he had given in exchange for
the £7,000 was really worth only a few pounds. After this most brilliant
_coup_ Benson abandoned Europe, re-crossed the Atlantic, and resumed
operations in America, He became the hero of many fraudulent adventures,
the last of which led to his arrest. In the city of Mexico he impudently
passed himself off as Mr. Abbey, Madame Patti's agent, and sold tickets
on her behalf to the amount of 25,000 dollars. This fraud was
discovered; he was arrested and taken to New York, where he was lodged
in the Tombs. While awaiting trial he committed suicide in gaol by
throwing himself over the railings from the top storey, thus fracturing
his spine.


The career of Max Shinburn can hardly be cited in proof of the old
saying that honesty is the best policy. This notorious criminal won a
fine fortune, as well as much evil fame, by his dishonest proceedings
between 1860 and 1880, and after sundry vicissitudes, ended in Belgium
as a millionaire, enjoying every luxury amidst the pleasantest

According to one account, Shinburn was a German Jew, who emigrated to
the United States rather hurriedly to evade police pursuit. He found his
way, it is said, to St. Louis, and soon got into trouble there as a
burglar; his intimate knowledge of the locksmith trade was useful to the
new friends he made, but did not save him from capture and
imprisonment. Another story is that he was born in Pennsylvania of
decent parents, was well educated, and in due course became a bank
clerk. His criminal tendencies were soon displayed by his defalcations;
he stole a number of greenbacks, and covered the theft by fraudulent
entries in the books. This ended his career of humdrum respectability,
and he was next heard of at Boston, where he robbed a bank by
burglariously entering the vaults, by means of his skill as a locksmith.
We have here some corroboration of the first account of his origin; if
he had begun life as a clerk he could not well have acquired skill as a
locksmith. It is strengthened by the fact that his largest and most
remunerative "affairs" were accomplished by forcing doors and opening
safes. It was said of him that he could walk into any bank, for he could
counterfeit any key; and that no safe, combination or other, could
resist his attack. The number of banks he plundered was extraordinary;
the New Windsor Bank of Maryland, a bank in Connecticut, and many more,
yielded before him; and in New England alone he amassed great sums.

[Illustration: MAX SHINBURN.]

Shinburn spent in wasteful excess all that he thus guiltily earned. He
lived most extravagantly, at the best hotels, consorting with the
showiest people; he was to be seen on all racecourses, "plunging"
wildly, and at the faro tables, where he played high. This continued for
years. He escaped all retribution until a confederate betrayed him in
connection with the wrecking of the Concord Bank, when at least 200,000
dollars was secured and divided among the gang. He was taken at
Saratoga, the fashionable watering-place, and his arrest caused much
sensation in the fast society of which he was so prominent a member.

Max Shinburn's consignment to gaol checked his baleful activity, but not
for long. His fame as a high-class gentleman criminal secured him
considerate treatment, which, on the loose system of many American
gaols, meant that his warders and he were on very familiar terms. One
evening Shinburn called an officer to his cell, and after a short
gossip at the door, invited him inside. Next moment he had seized the
warder by the throat, overpowered him, and captured his keys. Then,
making his victim fast, he walked straight out of the prison.

Once more taken and incarcerated, he once more escaped. This time, by
suborning his warders, he obtained the necessary tools for sawing
through the prison bars, and thus regained freedom. He soon resumed his
old practices, and on a much larger and more brilliant scale. One of his
chief feats was the forcing of the vaults of the Lehigh Coal and
Navigation Company, at Whitehaven, Pennsylvania, from which he
abstracted 56,000 dollars. He somehow contrived to obtain impressions of
the locks, and manufactured the keys.

The famous detective, Pinkerton, was called in, and soon guessed that
Shinburn had been at work. Some of the confederates were arrested, and
presently Shinburn was taken, but only after a desperate encounter. Now,
to ensure safe custody, the prisoner was handcuffed to one of
Pinkerton's assistants, and both were locked up in a room at the hotel.
Yet Shinburn, during the night, contrived to pick the lock of the
handcuff by means of the shank of his scarf-pin, and, shaking himself
free, slipped quietly away. He fled to Europe, and paid a first visit to
Belgium, but went back to the States to make one last grand _coup_. This
was the robbery of the Ocean Bank in New York, from which he took
£50,000 in securities, notes, and gold. With this fine booty he returned
to Belgium, bought himself a title, and--at least outwardly--lived the
life of an honest and respectable citizen. We have seen that Sheridan,
another American "crook," spent some years in Brussels, and it is
strongly suspected that he and Shinburn were concerned in the famous
mail train robbery and other great crimes in Belgium.



     Criminal Women worse than Criminal Men--Bell Star--Comtesse
     Sandor--Mother M----, the famous female Receiver of Stolen
     Goods--The "German Princess"--Jenny Diver--The Baroness de
     Menckwitz--Emily Lawrence--Louisa Miles--Mrs. Gordon-Baillie: Her
     dashing Career: Becomes Mrs. Percival Frost: The Crofter's Friend:
     Triumphal Visit to the Antipodes: Extensive Frauds on Tradesmen:
     Sentenced to Penal Servitude--A Viennese Impostor--Big Bertha, the
     "Confidence Queen."

It has been universally agreed that criminal women are the worst of all
criminals. "A woman is rarely wicked," runs the Italian adage, "but when
she is so, she is worse than a man." We must leave psychologists to
explain a fact which is well known to all who have dealings with the
criminal classes. No doubt, as a rule, women have a weaker moral sense;
they come more under the influence of feeling, and when once they stray
from the right path they wander far, and recovery is extremely
difficult. Many succumb altogether, and are merged in the general ruck
of commonplace, habitual criminals. Now and again a woman rises into the
first rank of offenders, and some female criminals may be counted
amongst the most remarkable of all depredators. One of these appeared in
Texas not many years ago, and, as a female outlaw, the head and chief
controlling spirit of a great gang, she long spread terror through that


was the daughter of a guerilla soldier, who had fought on the side of
the South, and she was nursed among scenes of bloodshed. When little
more than a child she learnt to handle the lasso, revolver, carbine, and
bowie knife with extraordinary skill. As she grew up

[Illustration: "SHE ... SLASHED HIM ACROSS THE FACE" (p. 449).]

she developed great strength, and became a fearless horsewoman, riding
wild, untamed brutes that no one else would mount. It is told of her
that she rode twice and won races at a country meeting, dressed once as
a man and once as a woman, having changed her attire so rapidly that the
trick was never discovered. She was barely eighteen when she was chosen
to lead the band, which she ruled with great firmness and courage,
dominating her associates by her superior intelligence, her audacity,
and her personal charm. Her exploits were of the most daring
description; she led organised attacks on populous cities, entering them
fearlessly, both before and after the event, disguised in male attire.
On one occasion she sat at the _table d'hôte_ beside the judge of the
district, and heard him boast that he knew Bell Star by sight, and
would arrest her wherever he met her. Next day, having mounted her horse
at the door of the hotel--still in man's clothes--she summoned the judge
to come out, told him who she was, slashed him across the face with her
riding-whip, and galloped away. Bell Star's band was constantly pursued
by Government troops; many pitched battles were fought between them, in
one of which this masculine heroine was slain.

Another woman of the same class was of French extraction, and known in
the Western States under the _sobriquet_ of "Zelie." She also commanded
a band of outlaws, and was ever foremost in acts of daring brigandage,
fighting, revolver in hand, always in the first rank. She was a woman of
great intellectual gifts and many accomplishments, spoke three languages
fluently, and was of very attractive appearance. She is said to have
died of hysteria in a French lunatic asylum.

Many other instances of this latter-day development of the criminal
woman may be quoted. There was at Lyons an American adventuress and
wholesale thief who, having enriched herself by robbery in the United
States, crossed to Europe and continued her depredations until arrested
in Paris. La Comtesse Sandor, as she was called, was another of this
type, who went about Europe disguised as a man, and as such gained the
affections of the daughter of a wealthy Austrian, whom she actually
married. Theodosia W., again, made a large fortune in St. Petersburg as
a receiver of stolen goods, and managed her felonious business with
remarkable astuteness.

"MOTHER M----."

Another notorious female receiver was "Mother M----," of New York, who,
with her husband, kept a haberdashery shop in that city towards the end
of the 'seventies. They were Jews, and keen traders. Their shop was a
perfectly respectable establishment on the surface. The proper
assortment of goods was on hand to supply the needs of regular
customers. "Mother M----" served in the shop herself, assisted by her
two daughters, and did so good a business that they might have honestly
acquired a competence. But she was in a hurry to grow rich and had no
conscientious scruples. She soon opened relations with thieves of all
descriptions, and was prepared to buy all kinds of stolen goods. Her
dealings were said to be enormous; they extended throughout the United
States and beyond--to Canada, Mexico, even to Europe.

As time went on she developed into the champion and banker of her
criminal customers. Under cover of her shop she ran a "bureau for the
prevention of detection," and was always ready to bribe police officers
who were corruptible, or throw them off the scent, and for due
consideration she would arrange for the defence of accused persons. It
was said that she had secured in advance the services of celebrated
criminal lawyers of New York by paying them a retaining fee of 5,000
dollars a year. When any of her clients were laid by the heels, she
acted as their banker, providing funds if required, and helping to
support their wives and families while they were in custody. She was
extremely cautious in her methods. No one was admitted to the office
behind the shop, where the real business was done, without introduction
and voucher. "Mother M----" allowed none of the "swag" to come to the
shop. The bulk of the proceeds of any robbery was first stored, and the
receiver invited to send an agent to examine and report upon it. Having
estimated its value, she then proceeded to haggle over the price, which
eventually she paid in cash, taking over the whole of the property and
accepting all the risks of its disposal. As a general rule, she secreted
it or shipped it off, and generally succeeded in escaping detection.
Once or twice, however, she came to grief. The proceeds of a great silk
robbery were found in her possession, but on arrest and trial she was
acquitted. At last, in 1884, New York became too hot to hold her, and
she crossed the frontier into Canada, and she is said to be still there,
living a quiet, respectable life. If report is to be trusted, she
regrets New York and the large circle of friends and acquaintances she
had gathered round her. In the days of her great activity she kept open
house for thieves of both sexes, gave handsome entertainments, employed
a good cook, and had a full cellar of choice wines. She enjoyed an
excellent reputation also as a liberal supporter of the Synagogue and
Jewish charities, and was generally esteemed.


Female sharpers have abounded in every age and country. The feminine
mind is so full of resource, a woman can be so inventive,


so clever in disguising frauds and keeping up specious appearances, that
we come upon the female adventuress continually. As far back as the
seventeenth century there was the celebrated "German Princess," who took
in everyone right and left. Although she was nothing more than a common
thief, the daughter of a chorister in Canterbury Cathedral, and the wife
of a shoemaker, she passed herself off at Continental watering-places as
the ill-used child of a sovereign prince of the German Empire. At Spa
she became engaged to a foolish old gentleman of large estate, and
absconded with all her presents before the wedding-day. Then she
established herself at a London tavern and, as an act of great
condescension, married the landlord's brother, who suddenly found that
she was a bigamist and a cheat. Her committal to Newgate followed, but
on her release she resumed her _rôle_ as the "German Princess" and went
on the stage to play in a piece named after her, and the plot of which
was founded on the strange ill-usage of this high-born lady. After this
she resumed her robberies and led a life of vagabondage, in which she
swindled tradesmen, especially jewellers, out of much valuable property.
Fate presently overtook her and landed her at the plantations as a
convict; but even in Jamaica her effrontery gained her the friendship of
the governor, and she soon returned to England to resume her career as a
rich heiress, whereby she duped many foolish people and committed
numbers of fresh robberies. One day, however, the keeper of the
Marshalsea prison, who was on the look-out for some stolen goods, called
at the lodging which she occupied, recognised her, and carried her off
to gaol. She was soon identified as a convict who had returned from
transportation, and her adventurous career presently ended on the


Mary Young, _alias_ Jenny Diver, was of the same stamp as the "German
Princess," but in a somewhat lower grade and of a later date. Her
business was chiefly pocket-picking, her adroitness in which gained her
her _sobriquet_, as one who "dived" deep into other people's pockets.
She was an Irish girl in service, who formed an acquaintance with a
thief, and accompanied him to London. The man was arrested on the way,
and Mary Young, arriving alone and helpless, soon joined a countrywoman,
Ann Murphy, and tried to earn her livelihood by her needle. Murphy told
her of a more lucrative way of life, and introduced her to a club near
St. Giles's, where thieves of both sexes assembled to practise their
business, and she was taught how to pick pockets, steal watches, and cut
off reticules. She soon displayed great dexterity. An early feat, which
gained her great renown, was that of stealing a diamond ring from the
finger of a young gentleman who helped her to alight from a coach.
Another clever trick of hers was to wear false arms and hands, while her
own were concealed beneath her cloak, to be used as occasion offered. It
was her custom to attend churches, and, when seated in a crowded pew,
make play on either side. Another clever device was to join the crowd
assembled to see a State procession. She would be attended by a footman
and by several accomplices. Seizing a favourable opportunity, between
the Park and Spring Gardens, she pretended to be taken seriously ill,
and while the crowd pressed round her with kindly help, her
confederates took advantage of the confusion to lay hands on all they
could "lift"; jewels, watches, snuffboxes of great value were thus
secured. Yet again, accompanied by her footman, she would pretend to be
taken ill at the door of a fine house and send her servant in to know if
she might be admitted until she recovered. While the occupants, who
willingly acceded to her request, were seeking medicines she snapped up
all the cash and valuables she could find. But she was at last arrested
in the very act of picking a gentleman's pocket and was transported to
Virginia, whence she returned before the completion of her sentence and
resumed her malpractices. Having made a successful tour through the
provinces, she returned to London, frequented the Royal Exchange, the
theatres, the Park, and other places of the sort, where she preyed
continually on the public and with continued immunity from arrest, till
she was caught picking a pocket on London Bridge and was again sentenced
to transportation. Again she returned, within a year, and was finally
arrested, tried a third time, and sentenced to death.


The type of Jenny Diver was not uncommon then or since, and many names
might be quoted in proof of this. A very notorious female swindler came
over to England towards the end of the eighteenth century, and managed
to defraud numbers of London tradespeople of considerable sums. Her plan
of procedure was always the same: to pass herself off as a lady of
distinction, take a house in a good part of the town, furnish it on
credit, make away with the goods, and then abscond. She was arrested
again and again, and spent much time in Newgate or the Fleet Prison. One
device was to open a picture gallery where busts and portraits were on
sale, which she had obtained, the first from an Italian image boy, the
second from credulous dealers. Sometimes she got a bill discounted on
the strength of having a consignment of wax figures detained in the
Custom House. She set up an establishment as a "fancy dress-maker" in
Half Moon Street, Piccadilly, but the house was only a cloak to
debauchery and malpractices.

In carrying out these various frauds and crimes she assumed many
aliases, and was now Miss Price, next Mrs. Douglas or Lady


(_From Contemporary Engravings._)]

Douglas, Mrs. Wray, Mrs. Hughes, and finally, having joined forces with
a German swindler whose acquaintance she had made in the Fleet Prison,
she took rank as the Baroness de Menckwitz. This Menckwitz was a
dismissed lieutenant from the Imperial service, who had committed many
depredations in Vienna, and was much "wanted" by the Imperial police. A
handbill circulated at the time described him as twenty-eight years of
age, about the middle height, hair inclined to be reddish and worn after
the English fashion "tied and in a bag"; in the face he was blotched,
had grey eyes, was rather thin but well made, and he usually wore the
cross of the Holy Order of St. Stanislas on his breast.

His associate, who had passed also as a Baroness de Kenentz, was
described in the same handbill as five feet in height, rather thin, but
of strong build, having quite black hair and eyebrows, somewhat brown
complexion, black eyes, and wearing her hair "quite negligent or loose
without powder." To this physical _signalement_ a contemporary account
adds: "She has the tongue of a siren, the bite of an asp, and the fangs
of a harpy.... She is devoid of every particle of gratitude, and would
sacrifice the best friend the moment her turn is served.... Her art is
so excessive that though you were warned against her, she would find out
new ways to deceive you," and more to the same effect.

Together this precious pair made a fine harvest for a time. They took a
house in Somerset Street, Portman Square, for six months, and hired a
set of servants; also a chariot, "the better to carry on their
depredations." They now pawned the plate they had obtained by fraud in
Vienna. A most elaborate scheme of fraud was practised on a London
merchant, to whom they presented themselves armed with a bill of
exchange drawn in Hamburg, and on the strength of which they obtained a
loan of £100. This they repaid, but obtained a fresh loan of £1,100,
covered by the pledge of a diamond ring. This sum was needed, they
pretended, to complete the purchase of a large stud of horses for the
Grand Duke Ferdinand, which was on the point of being shipped at
Yarmouth. They furthermore represented that the Baron was about to be
appointed Austrian Ambassador in the room of Count Starenberg, on the
eve of being recalled. On these pretences the loan was advanced, and
only partly repaid. Other frauds were perpetrated upon jewellers, who
parted with valuables, which the two Menckwitzes pledged. For this they
were arrested; but the London merchant backed their bail, entirely to
his own loss.

After this the woman deserted her companion and took the name of
Douglas, to pursue her depredations her own way, and to meet with the
requital at last that she deserved.


Before passing on to more recent female swindlers, it may be interesting
to mention briefly one or two who were well known between 1850 and 1870.
Emily Lawrence, a dashing adventuress and adroit, daring thief, had few
equals. She is described as a most ladylike and fascinating person, who
was received with effusion when she descended from her brougham at a
shop door and entered to give her orders. Her line was jewel robbery,
which she effected on a large scale. At one time she was "wanted" for
stealing "loose" diamonds in Paris to the value of £10,000. Soon
afterwards she was arrested for other jewel robberies at Emanuel's, and
at Hunt and Roskell's, in London. Imprisonment for seven years followed,
after which she resumed her operations, now choosing for the scene of
her depredations Brighton, where she stole jewels worth £1,000 while she
engaged the shopman with her fascinating conversation. Apprehended as
she was leaving Brighton, she asserted that she was a lady of rank, but
a London detective who came down soon proved the contrary, and she again
got seven years. It was always said that this extraordinary woman
carried a number of valuable diamonds with her to Millbank penitentiary,
and succeeded in hiding them there. A tradition obtains that the jewels
were never unearthed, and that the secret of the hiding-place long
survived among the fraternity of thieves. Women, it was said, came as
prisoners almost voluntarily, in order to carry out their search for the
treasure, and a thousand devices were tried to secure a lodging in the
cell where the valuables were said to be concealed. Whether they were
found and taken safely out of Millbank we shall never know. Probably the
whole story is a fable, and it is at least certain that no jewels were
discovered when Millbank was destroyed, root and branch, a few years ago
(1895), to make way for the National Gallery of British Art.


Louisa Miles was another of the Emily Lawrence class, who kept her own
carriage for purposes of fraud, and called herself by several fine
names. One day she drove up to Hunt and Roskell's as Miss Constance
Browne, to select jewels for her sick friend, Lady Campbell. Giving a
good West End address, and a banker's reference, she asked that the
valuables might be sent home on approbation. When an assistant brought
them, he was told Lady Campbell was too ill to leave her room, and they
must be taken in to her. He demurred at first, then yielded, and never
saw the jewels again. After waiting nervously for half an hour the
assistant found he was locked in. When the police arrived to release him
the ladies had disappeared, and with them the jewels. The house had been
hired furnished, the carriage also was hired, as well as the footman in
livery. Pursuit was quickly organised, and Miss Constance Browne was
captured in a second-class carriage on the Great Western Railway, with a
quantity of the stolen jewels in her possession, and was sentenced to
penal servitude.


The modern female sharper is generally more inventive than were her
predecessors, and works on more ambitious lines, although there is
little to choose between the old and the new in criminality. If the
"German Princess" had had the same scope, the same large theatre of
operations, she would probably have outdone even the famous Mrs.
Gordon-Baillie, whose extensive frauds gained her a sentence of five
years' penal servitude. This ingenious person long turned the credulity
of the British public to her own advantage, and, posing as a lady of
rank and fashion, became noted for her heartfelt philanthropy, her eager
desire to help the distressed. It was in 1886 that a certain Mrs.
Gordon-Baillie appeared before the world as the champion and friend of
the crofters of Skye; a dashing and attractive lady, in the possession
of ample funds, which she freely lavished in the interests of her
_protégés_. No one knew who she was or where she came from, but she was
accepted at her own valuation, and much appreciated, not only in the
island of Skye, when she was "on the stump," but also in the West End
of London, and by the best society. She made a sensation wherever she
went. She was a tall, light-haired, fresh-complexioned woman, much given
to gorgeous apparel, and her fine presence and engaging ways gained her
admission to many good houses. Her movements were chronicled in society
papers; she was often interviewed by the reporters, and she had a bank
balance and a cheque-book as a client of one of the oldest banks in

[Illustration: MRS. GORDON-BAILLIE.]

All this time the popular Mrs. Gordon-Baillie was a swindler and a
thief, whose chequered career had commenced by a term of imprisonment in
the general prison of Perth, who indulged in several aliases, had been
twice married, and was so deeply engaged in shady transactions that she
had been very much "wanted," and had only evaded pursuit by changing her
identity. She was born of humble parents at Peterhead--her mother having
been a servant, her father a small farmer--and first became known to
criminal fame about 1872 as a pretty, engaging young person who had
swindled the tradesmen of Dundee. She was there convicted of obtaining
goods under false pretences, having hired and furnished a smart villa,
where she lived in luxurious comfort until arrested for not paying the
bills. She was at this time Miss Mary Ann Sutherland Bruce, her own
name, and she retained it after her release, when she returned to her
swindling courses, this time in Edinburgh, whence she was obliged to
bolt. Her movements were now erratic; she passed rapidly from London to
Paris, from Paris to Rome, Florence, Vienna, visiting all the principal
cities of Europe, and leaving behind her unpaid tradesmen and
disappointed landlords, but turning up smiling in new places, and soon
securing new friends. As a proof of her audacity, about this time she
made overtures to buy a London newspaper, and to start in the management
of a London theatre. She was now resident in a pretty house near
Regent's Park, with a lady companion, a brougham, and a well-mounted
establishment. Once again fate checked her career, in the shape of
warrants for fraudulent pretences, and she found it advisable to
disappear. When next she rose above the surface it was in a new aspect,
with a new name. She was now Miss Ogilvie White, sometimes Mrs. White.
During this period she was summoned at the Mansion House by a cabman,
and was described as of York Terrace, Regent's Park.

Her first appearance as Mrs. Gordon-Baillie was in 1885, when she became
intimately acquainted with an old baronet, a gentleman on the other side
of eighty, now inclining to dotage. Under his auspices she launched out
again, had a charming house in the West End, and money was plentiful for
a time. It was a costly acquaintance for him; when the supplies ran
short (and she seems to have extracted quite £18,000 from him) she
easily persuaded him to accept bills for large amounts, which were
readily discounted in the City until it was found there were "no
effects" to meet them. The aged baronet was sued on all sides, and
although his friends interposed declaring he was unable to manage his
own affairs, having signed these acceptances under undue influence, a
petition in bankruptcy was filed against him, so that the claims, which
ran to thousands of pounds, might be thoroughly investigated. Mrs.
Gordon-Baillie was much "wanted" in connection with these transactions.
But she was not to be found, and it was reported that she had gone to
Australia, although her visit to the Antipodes was really made at a
later date.


It was about this time that she married privately--for she retained her
more aristocratic surname--a certain Richard Percival Bodeley Frost. Her
husband was fairly well born and had good connections, but he was put to
hard shifts for a living, and found his account in floating the bills
which his future wife was obtaining from the baronet above mentioned.
The manipulation of these considerable sums gave him status as a man of
substance, and he became largely engaged in company promoting, entering
into contracts and other speculations. It was proved that he was at this
time entirely without means, yet he contrived to get good backing from
bankers in Lombard Street, and one City solicitor lent him £1,000 for a
week or two on his note of hand. The money was never repaid, and when
Mr. Frost was finally exposed he appeared in the bankruptcy court with
liabilities to the tune of £130,000.

Meanwhile his wife had espoused the cause of the crofters of Skye. She
appeared there in the depths of a severe winter, but, nothing daunted,
went on stump through the island, received everywhere with enthusiasm by
the crofters, whom she harangued on every possible occasion. Her charity
was profuse, it was said, although the source of the funds she
distributed was somewhat tainted. At the end of her tour she collected
£70 towards the defence of the crofters about to be tried at Inverness,
and for this notable service she was presented with an address signed by
the member for Skye and others. Now she went out to Australia, partly on
private business, partly to seek assistance for her crofters and acquire
lands on which they might settle in the New World. Her visit was one
long triumph. She was warmly greeted whereever she appeared. Colonial
statesmen gladly fell in with her views, and when she returned to
England, it was with a grant of 70,000 acres from the Government of

Frost, to whom she was no doubt married, joined her in Australia, and
the couple returned to England as Mr. and Mrs. Roberts. She, however,
resumed the name of Gordon-Baillie, and as such embarked upon a new
career of swindling, which was neither profitable nor very successful.
Her system argued that she was no longer backed by capital, and that she
was reduced to rather commonplace frauds to gain a livelihood. Her usual
practice, about which there is little novelty, was to order goods from
confiding tradesmen, pay for them with a cheque above the value, and get
the change in cash. The cheques were presently dishonoured, but Mrs.
Gordon-Baillie had scored twice, having both ready money and the goods
themselves, which she promptly re-sold. Frost was concerned in these
transactions, for the counterfoils of the cheque-book were in his
handwriting. The Frosts constantly changed their address, moving from
furnished house to furnished house, adding to their precarious means by
plundering and pawning all articles on which they could safely lay their

In all this she was no doubt greatly aided by her fashionable appearance
and winning ways. Not only did shopmen bow down before her, but she
imposed upon the shrewd pressmen who interviewed her, and towards the
end of her career, when funds were low, she persuaded a firm of West End
bankers, hard-headed, experienced men of business, to give her a
cheque-book and allow her to open an account. She soon had drawn no less
than thirty-nine cheques on their bank, not one of which was honoured.
When at last fate overtook her, and the police were set on her track by
the duped and defrauded tradesmen, she brazened it out in court,
declaring that her engagements were no more than debts, and that she was
no worse than dozens of fashionable ladies who did not pay their bills.
The prompt disposal of the goods she had obtained was, however, held to
be felonious. Nor would the judge allow her plea that she always meant
to replace the furniture she had pawned. Severe punishment was her
righteous portion, and all who were associated with her suffered. As
Annie Frost she was sentenced to five years' penal servitude; her
husband, Frost, to eighteen months. Since her release, she has been
reconvicted for the same class of fraud, but she is, I believe, now
again at large.


An ingenious fraud was not long since devised and carried out with a
certain impunity by a young woman of Vienna. She pretended to have been
struck with a sudden admiration for some one of the gilded youth of the
Austrian capital, and so far forgot maidenly reserve as to write and
confess her weakness. She chose a well-to-do but easily gullible
person--and not one, but dozens, telling them one and all the same
story. As she signed herself in full with the aristocratic name of
Kinsky, just then borne by a beautiful and wealthy member of that high
family, the individuals selected felt themselves on the high road to
fortune. The correspondence which followed was of the romantic kind, and
it ended in a consent to elope at an early date.

That was, however, impossible until sufficient funds were forthcoming to
bribe the servants of the Kinsky mansion--the concierge, the lady's
maid, the footmen, coachman, and so forth. Ample supplies were forthwith
despatched to the young lady, who thus realised a very considerable sum.
About this time the fraud became known to the police, and the false
countess was arrested under the more plebeian name of Marie Lichtner.
She seems to have enjoyed the whole joke, which was both profitable and
amusing, despite the penalty of imprisonment that overtook her. On one
occasion she gave a rendezvous to all her admirers at the opera, and on
the same night. They were to appear in correct evening dress, and each
was to wear a white camellia in his buttonhole. Marie Lichtner was
there, but so also was the true countess, in a box upon the Grand Tier,
resplendent in her beauty, and no doubt the false lady had the mingled
pleasure and pain of seeing many lovelorn looks addressed to the Kinsky
box and its handsome occupant.


[Illustration: BERTHA HEYMAN.]

America has produced a rival to Mrs. Gordon-Baillie in Bertha Heyman,
sometimes known as "Big Bertha," sometimes as the "Confidence Queen," a
lady of like smart appearance and engaging manners, who reaped a fine
harvest from the simpletons who were only too willing to believe in her.
One of her first exploits was to wheedle a thousand dollars out of a
palace car conductor when travelling between New York and Chicago. Soon
after that, with a confederate calling himself Dr. Cooms, she was
arrested for despoiling a commercial traveller from Montreal of several
hundred thousand dollars by the confidence game. Her schemes were
extraordinarily bold and ingenious, and they were covered by much
ostentatious display. It was her plan to lodge at the best hotels, such
as the Windsor, the Brunswick, and Hoffman House, New York, the Palmer
House in Chicago, or Parker's in Boston, to have both a lady's-maid and
a man-servant in her train, and to talk at large about her influential
friends. Yet she was constantly in trouble, and saw the inside of many
gaols and penitentiaries, but she came out ready to begin again with new
projects, often on a bolder scale. One of her last feats was in Wall
Street operations in stocks and shares. With her specious tongue she
persuaded one broker that she was enormously rich, worth at least eight
million dollars, and by this means won a great deal of money. The fraud
was only discovered when the securities she had deposited were examined
and found to be quite worthless. "Big Bertha" was gifted with insight
into human nature, and is said to have succeeded in deceiving the
shrewdest business people. Of late nothing has been heard of her.

[Illustration: END OF VOL. I.]



 [1] "Records of Indian Crime," ii. 158.

 [2] "Medical Jurisprudence of India," p. 21.

 [3] "Reminiscences of an Indian Police Official," p. 66.

 [4] Some other very creditable exploits of this Indian detective,
 Abdul Ali, in elucidating murder mysteries will be given in a later
 chapter when dealing with Indian police.

 [5] In the possession of Mdme. Tussaud & Son, Ltd.

 [6] Abridged from the full account given in the "Tales from
 _Blackwood_," Second Series.

 [7] _See_ "Secrets of the Prison House," vol. i.

 [8] "Criminal Law of England."

 [9] Townsend's "Life of Justice Buller."

 [10] These _convulsionnaires_ were a sect of the Jansenists who met
 at the tomb of "Francis of Paris," where they preached, prophesying
 the downfall of the Church and the French monarchy. Their ceremonies
 were wild and extravagant; they contorted their bodies violently,
 rolled on the ground, imitating birds, beasts, and fishes, until these
 convulsions (hence their name) ended in a swoon and collapse. The law
 was very severe against these fanatics, who, however, survived the
 most vigorous measures.

 [11] Pasquier, Mémoires, iii., p. 311.

 [12] See _post_, p. 337.

 [13] See _ante_, p. 236.

 [14] See _ante_, pp. 226-228.

 [15] George Augustus Sala, "A Journey Due North."

 [16] Mr. George Kennan, in the _Century_ Magazine.

 [17] "India in 1880," p. 203.

 [18] See _ante_, pp. 241, 242.

 [19] The opinion expressed by a Parliamentary Committee, in 1833,
 on this wearing of plain clothes is worth recording. "With respect
 to the occasional employment of police in plain clothes," says the
 Report, "the system affords no just matter of complaint while strictly
 confined to detecting breaches of the law.... At the same time,
 the Committee would strongly urge the most cautious maintenance of
 these limits, and solemnly deprecate any approach to the employment
 of spies, in the usual acceptance of the term, as a practice most
 abhorrent to the feelings of the people and most alien to the spirit
 of the Constitution."

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

Brunel=> Brunell {pg v}

preqared to submit herself=> prepared to submit herself {pg 123}

province of Limgoes=> province of Limoges {pg 139}

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