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The Detective Police - flamingo

The Detective Police
by-Charles Dicken

WE are not by any
means devout
believers in the old Bow
Street Police. To say
the truth, we think
there was a vast
amount of humbug
about those worthies.
Apart from many of
them being men of
very indifferent
character, and far too
much in the habit of
consorting with thieves
and the like, they never
lost a public occasion
of jobbing and trading
in mystery and making
the most of
themselves. Continually
puffed besides by
magistrates anxious to
conceal their own
deficiencies, and hand-
in-glove with the
penny-a-liners of that
time, they became a
sort of superstition.
Although as a
Preventive Police they
were utterly
ineffective, and as a
Detective Police were
very loose and
uncertain in their
operations, they
remain with some
people a superstition
to the present day.
On the other hand, the
Detective Force
organised since the
establishment of the
existing Police, is so
well chosen and
trained, proceeds so
systematically and
quietly, does its
business in such a
workmanlike manner,
and is always so calmly
and steadily engaged in
the service of the
public, that the public
really do not know
enough of it, to know a
tithe of its usefulness.
Impressed with this
conviction, and
interested in the men
themselves, we
represented to the
authorities at Scotland
Yard, that we should be
glad, if there were no
official objection, to
have some talk with
the Detectives. A most
obliging and ready
permission being given,
a certain evening was
appointed with a
certain Inspector for a
social conference
between ourselves and
the Detectives, at The
Household Words Office
in Wellington Street,
Strand, London. In
consequence of which
appointment the party
'came off,' which we
are about to describe.
And we beg to repeat
that, avoiding such
topics as it might for
obvious reasons be
injurious to the public,
or disagreeable to
respectable individuals,
to touch upon in print,
our description is as
exact as we can make
The reader will have
the goodness to
imagine the Sanctum
Sanctorum of
Household Words.
Anything that best
suits the reader's
fancy, will best
represent that
magnificent chamber.
We merely stipulate for
a round table in the
middle, with some
glasses and cigars
arranged upon it; and
the editorial sofa
elegantly hemmed in
between that stately
piece of furniture and
the wall.
It is a sultry evening at
dusk. The stones of
Wellington Street are
hot and gritty, and the
watermen and
hackney-coachmen at
the Theatre opposite,
are much flushed and
aggravated. Carriages
are constantly setting
down the people who
have come to Fairy-
Land; and there is a
mighty shouting and
bellowing every now
and then, deafening us
for the moment,
through the open
Just at dusk,
Inspectors Wield and
Stalker are announced;
but we do not
undertake to warrant
the orthography of any
of the names here
mentioned. Inspector
Wield presents
Inspector Stalker.
Inspector Wield is a
middle-aged man of a
portly presence, with a
large, moist, knowing
eye, a husky voice, and
a habit of emphasising
his conversation by the
aid of a corpulent fore-
finger, which is
constantly in
juxtaposition with his
eyes or nose. Inspector
Stalker is a shrewd,
Scotchman - in
appearance not at all
unlike a very acute,
schoolmaster, from
the Normal
Establishment at
Glasgow. Inspector
Wield one might have
known, perhaps, for
what he is - Inspector
Stalker, never.
The ceremonies of
reception over,
Inspectors Wield and
Stalker observe that
they have brought
some sergeants with
them. The sergeants
are presented - five in
number, Sergeant
Dornton, Sergeant
Witchem, Sergeant
Mith, Sergeant Fendall,
and Sergeant Straw.
We have the whole
Detective Force from
Scotland Yard, with one
exception. They sit
down in a semi-circle
(the two Inspectors at
the two ends) at a little
distance from the
round table, facing the
editorial sofa. Every
man of them, in a
glance, immediately
takes an inventory of
the furniture and an
accurate sketch of the
editorial presence. The
Editor feels that any
gentleman in company
could take him up, if
need should be, without
the smallest
hesitation, twenty
years hence.
The whole party are in
plain clothes. Sergeant
Dornton about fifty
years of age, with a
ruddy face and a high
sunburnt forehead,
has the air of one who
has been a Sergeant in
the army - he might
have sat to Wilkie for
the Soldier in the
Reading of the Will. He is
famous for steadily
pursuing the inductive
process, and, from
small beginnings,
working on from clue
to clue until he bags his
man. Sergeant
Witchem, shorter and
thicker-set, and
marked with the small-
pox, has something of
a reserved and
thoughtful air, as if he
were engaged in deep
calculations. He is
renowned for his
acquaintance with the
swell mob. Sergeant
Mith, a smooth-faced
man with a fresh
bright complexion, and
a strange air of
simplicity, is a dab at
Sergeant Fendall, a
light- haired, well-
spoken, polite person,
is a prodigious hand at
pursuing private
inquiries of a delicate
nature. Straw, a little
wiry Sergeant of meek
demeanour and strong
sense, would knock at
a door and ask a series
of questions in any mild
character you choose
to prescribe to him,
from a charity-boy
upwards, and seem as
innocent as an infant.
They are, one and all,
men; of perfectly good
deportment and
unusual intelligence;
with nothing lounging or
slinking in their
manners; with an air of
keen observation and
quick perception when
addressed; and
generally presenting in
their faces, traces
more or less marked
of habitually leading
lives of strong mental
excitement. They have
all good eyes; and they
all can, and they all do,
look full at
whomsoever they
speak to.
We light the cigars, and
hand round the glasses
(which are very
temperately used
indeed), and the
conversation begins by
a modest amateur
reference on the
Editorial part to the
swell mob. Inspector
Wield immediately
removes his cigar
from his lips, waves his
right hand, and says,
'Regarding the swell
mob, sir, I can't do
better than call upon
Sergeant Witchem.
Because the reason
why? I'll tell you.
Sergeant Witchem is
better acquainted with
the swell mob than any
officer in London.'
Our heart leaping up
when we beheld this
rainbow in the sky, we
turn to Sergeant
Witchem, who very
concisely, and in well-
chosen language, goes
into the subject
forthwith. Meantime,
the whole of his
brother officers are
closely interested in
attending to what he
says, and observing its
effect. Presently they
begin to strike in, one
or two together, when
an opportunity offers,
and the conversation
becomes general. But
these brother officers
only come in to the
assistance of each
other - not to the
contradiction - and a
more amicable
brotherhood there
could not be. From the
swell mob, we diverge
to the kindred topics
of cracksmen, fences,
public- house dancers,
area-sneaks, designing
young people who go
out 'gonophing,' and
other 'schools.' It is
observable throughout
these revelations, that
Inspector Stalker, the
Scotchman, is always
exact and statistical,
and that when any
question of figures
arises, everybody as
by one consent
pauses, and looks to
When we have
exhausted the various
schools of Art - during
which discussion the
whole body have
remained profoundly
attentive, except when
some unusual noise at
the Theatre over the
way has induced some
gentleman to glance
inquiringly towards the
window in that
direction, behind his
next neighbour's back -
we burrow for
information on such
points as the following.
Whether there really
are any highway
robberies in London, or
whether some
circumstances not
convenient to be
mentioned by the
aggrieved party,
usually precede the
robberies complained
of, under that head,
which quite change
their character?
Certainly the latter,
almost always.
Whether in the case of
robberies in houses,
where servants are
necessarily exposed to
doubt, innocence under
suspicion ever
becomes so like guilt in
appearance, that a
good officer need be
cautious how he judges
it? Undoubtedly.
Nothing is so common
or deceptive as such
appearances at first.
Whether in a place of
public amusement, a
thief knows an officer,
and an officer knows a
thief - supposing them,
beforehand, strangers
to each other -
because each
recognises in the
other, under all
disguise, an inattention
to what is going on, and
a purpose that is not
the purpose of being
entertained? Yes.
That's the way exactly.
Whether it is
reasonable or
ridiculous to trust to
the alleged experiences
of thieves as narrated
by themselves, in
prisons, or
penitentiaries, or
anywhere? In general,
nothing more absurd.
Lying is their habit and
their trade; and they
would rather lie - even
if they hadn't an
interest in it, and didn't
want to make
themselves agreeable -
than tell the truth.
From these topics, we
glide into a review of
the most celebrated
and horrible of the
great crimes that have
been committed within
the last fifteen or
twenty years. The men
engaged in the
discovery of almost all
of them, and in the
pursuit or
apprehension of the
murderers, are here,
down to the very last
instance. One of our
guests gave chase to
and boarded the
emigrant ship, in which
the murderess last
hanged in London was
supposed to have
embarked. We learn
from him that his
errand was not
announced to the
passengers, who may
have no idea of it to
this hour. That he went
below, with the captain,
lamp in hand - it being
dark, and the whole
steerage abed and
sea-sick - and engaged
the Mrs. Manning who
WAS on board, in a
conversation about her
luggage, until she was,
with no small pains,
induced to raise her
head, and turn her
face towards the light.
Satisfied that she was
not the object of his
search, he quietly re-
embarked in the
Government steamer
along-side, and
steamed home again
with the intelligence.
When we have
exhausted these
subjects, too, which
occupy a considerable
time in the discussion,
two or three leave
their chairs, whisper
Sergeant Witchem, and
resume their seat.
Sergeant Witchem,
leaning forward a little,
and placing a hand on
each of his legs, then
modestly speaks as
'My brother-officers
wish me to relate a
little account of my
taking Tally-ho
Thompson. A man
oughtn't to tell what he
has done himself; but
still, as nobody was
with me, and,
consequently, as
nobody but myself can
tell it, I'll do it in the
best way I can, if it
should meet your
We assure Sergeant
Witchem that he will
oblige us very much,
and we all compose
ourselves to listen with
great interest and
'Tally-ho Thompson,'
says Sergeant
Witchem, after merely
wetting his lips with his
'Tally-ho Thompson was
a famous horse-
stealer, couper, and
magsman. Thompson,
in conjunction with a
pal that occasionally
worked with him,
gammoned a
countryman out of a
good round sum of
money, under pretence
of getting him a
situation - the regular
old dodge - and was
afterwards in the "Hue
and Cry" for a horse - a
horse that he stole
down in Hertfordshire. I
had to look after
Thompson, and I applied
myself, of course, in
the first instance, to
discovering where he
was. Now, Thompson's
wife lived, along with a
little daughter, at
Chelsea. Knowing that
Thompson was
somewhere in the
country, I watched the
house - especially at
post-time in the
morning - thinking
Thompson was pretty
likely to write to her.
Sure enough, one
morning the postman
comes up, and delivers
a letter at Mrs.
Thompson's door. Little
girl opens the door, and
takes it in. We're not
always sure of
postmen, though the
people at the post-
offices are always
very obliging. A
postman may help us,
or he may not, - just
as it happens. However,
I go across the road,
and I say to the
postman, after he has
left the letter, "Good
morning! how are you?"
"How are YOU!" says he.
"You've just delivered a
letter for Mrs.
Thompson." "Yes, I
have." "You didn't
happen to remark
what the post-mark
was, perhaps?" "No,"
says he, "I didn't."
"Come," says I, "I'll be
plain with you. I'm in a
small way of business,
and I have given
Thompson credit, and I
can't afford to lose
what he owes me. I
know he's got money,
and I know he's in the
country, and if you
could tell me what the
post-mark was, I
should be very much
obliged to you, and
you'd do a service to a
tradesman in a small
way of business that
can't afford a loss."
"Well," he said, "I do
assure you that I did
not observe what the
post-mark was; all I
know is, that there
was money in the
letter - I should say a
sovereign." This was
enough for me,
because of course I
knew that Thompson
having sent his wife
money, it was probable
she'd write to
Thompson, by return
of post, to
acknowledge the
receipt. So I said
"Thankee" to the
postman, and I kept on
the watch. In the
afternoon I saw the
little girl come out. Of
course I followed her.
She went into a
stationer's shop, and I
needn't say to you that
I looked in at the
window. She bought
some writing-paper
and envelopes, and a
pen. I think to myself,
"That'll do!" - watch her
home again - and don't
go away, you may be
sure, knowing that Mrs.
Thompson was writing
her letter to Tally-ho,
and that the letter
would be posted
presently. In about an
hour or so, out came
the little girl again, with
the letter in her hand. I
went up, and said
something to the child,
whatever it might have
been; but I couldn't see
the direction of the
letter, because she
held it with the seal
upwards. However, I
observed that on the
back of the letter
there was what we call
a kiss - a drop of wax
by the side of the seal
- and again, you
understand, that was
enough for me. I saw
her post the letter,
waited till she was
gone, then went into
the shop, and asked to
see the Master. When
he came out, I told him,
"Now, I'm an Officer in
the Detective Force;
there's a letter with a
kiss been posted here
just now, for a man
that I'm in search of;
and what I have to ask
of you, is, that you will
let me look at the
direction of that
letter." He was very
civil - took a lot of
letters from the box in
the window - shook 'em
out on the counter
with the faces
downwards - and there
among 'em was the
identical letter with the
kiss. It was directed,
Mr. Thomas Pigeon,
Post Office, B-, to be
left till called for. Down I
went to B- (a hundred
and twenty miles or so)
that night. Early next
morning I went to the
Post Office; saw the
gentleman in charge of
that department; told
him who I was; and that
my object was to see,
and track, the party
that should come for
the letter for Mr.
Thomas Pigeon. He was
very polite, and said,
"You shall have every
assistance we can give
you; you can wait inside
the office; and we'll
take care to let you
know when anybody
comes for the letter."
Well, I waited there
three days, and began
to think that nobody
ever WOULD come. At
last the clerk
whispered to me,
"Here! Detective!
Somebody's come for
the letter!" "Keep him a
minute," said I, and I
ran round to the
outside of the office.
There I saw a young
chap with the
appearance of an
Ostler, holding a horse
by the bridle -
stretching the bridle
across the pavement,
while he waited at the
Post Office Window for
the letter. I began to
pat the horse, and
that; and I said to the
boy, "Why, this is Mr.
Jones's Mare!" "No. It
an't." "No?" said I. "She's
very like Mr. Jones's
Mare!" "She an't Mr.
Jones's Mare, anyhow,"
says he. "It's Mr. So and
So's, of the Warwick
Arms." And up he
jumped, and off he
went - letter and all. I
got a cab, followed on
the box, and was so
quick after him that I
came into the stable-
yard of the Warwick
Arms, by one gate,
just as he came in by
another. I went into the
bar, where there was a
young woman serving,
and called for a glass
of brandy-and-water.
He came in directly,
and handed her the
letter. She casually
looked at it, without
saying anything, and
stuck it up behind the
glass over the
chimney-piece. What
was to be done next?
'I turned it over in my
mind while I drank my
(looking pretty sharp
at the letter the while),
but I couldn't see my
way out of it at all. I
tried to get lodgings in
the house, but there
had been a horse-fair,
or something of that
sort, and it was full. I
was obliged to put up
somewhere else, but I
came backwards and
forwards to the bar
for a couple of days,
and there was the
letter always behind
the glass. At last I
thought I'd write a
letter to Mr. Pigeon
myself, and see what
that would do. So I
wrote one, and posted
it, but I purposely
addressed it, Mr. John
Pigeon, instead of Mr.
Thomas Pigeon, to see
what THAT would do. In
the morning (a very
wet morning it was) I
watched the postman
down the street, and
cut into the bar, just
before he reached the
Warwick Arms. In he
came presently with
my letter. "Is there a
Mr. John Pigeon staying
here?" "No! - stop a bit
though," says the
barmaid; and she took
down the letter behind
the glass. "No," says
she, "it's Thomas, and
HE is not staying here.
Would you do me a
favour, and post this
for me, as it is so
wet?" The postman
said Yes; she folded it
in another envelope,
directed it, and gave it
him. He put it in his hat,
and away he went.
'I had no difficulty in
finding out the
direction of that letter.
It was addressed Mr.
Thomas Pigeon, Post
Office, R-,
Northamptonshire, to
be left till called for. Off
I started directly for
R-; I said the same at
the Post Office there,
as I had said at B-; and
again I waited three
days before anybody
came. At last another
chap on horseback
came. "Any letters for
Mr. Thomas Pigeon?"
"Where do you come
from?" "New Inn, near
R-." He got the letter,
and away HE went at a
'I made my inquiries
about the New Inn,
near R-, and hearing it
was a solitary sort of
house, a little in the
horse line, about a
couple of miles from
the station, I thought
I'd go and have a look
at it. I found it what it
had been described,
and sauntered in, to
look about me. The
landlady was in the bar,
and I was trying to get
into conversation with
her; asked her how
business was, and
spoke about the wet
weather, and so on;
when I saw, through an
open door, three men
sitting by the fire in a
sort of parlour, or
kitchen; and one of
those men, according
to the description I had
of him, was Tally-ho
'I went and sat down
among 'em, and tried
to make things
agreeable; but they
were very shy -
wouldn't talk at all -
looked at me, and at
one another, in a way
quite the reverse of
sociable. I reckoned 'em
up, and finding that
they were all three
bigger men than me,
and considering that
their looks were ugly -
that it was a lonely
place - railroad station
two miles off - and
night coming on -
thought I couldn't do
better than have a
drop of brandy-and-
water to keep my
courage up. So I called
for my brandy-and-
water; and as I was
sitting drinking it by
the fire, Thompson got
up and went out.
'Now the difficulty of it
was, that I wasn't sure
it WAS Thompson,
because I had never
set eyes on him
before; and what I had
wanted was to be quite
certain of him.
However, there was
nothing for it now, but
to follow, and put a
bold face upon it. I
found him talking,
outside in the yard,
with the landlady. It
turned out afterwards
that he was wanted by
a Northampton officer
for something else,
and that, knowing that
officer to be pock-
marked (as I am
myself), he mistook
me for him. As I have
observed, I found him
talking to the landlady,
outside. I put my hand
upon his shoulder - this
way - and said, "Tally-
ho Thompson, it's no
use. I know you. I'm an
officer from London,
and I take you into
custody for felony!"
"That be d-d!" says
Tally-ho Thompson.
'We went back into the
house, and the two
friends began to cut up
rough, and their looks
didn't please me at all, I
assure you. "Let the
man go. What are you
going to do with him?"
"I'll tell you what I'm
going to do with him.
I'm going to take him to
London to- night, as
sure as I'm alive. I'm
not alone here,
whatever you may
think. You mind your
own business, and keep
yourselves to
yourselves. It'll be
better for you, for I
know you both very
well." I'D never seen or
heard of 'em in all my
life, but my bouncing
cowed 'em a bit, and
they kept off, while
Thompson was making
ready to go. I thought
to myself, however,
that they might be
coming after me on
the dark road, to
rescue Thompson; so I
said to the landlady,
"What men have you
got in the house,
Missis?" "We haven't
got no men here," she
says, sulkily. "You have
got an ostler, I
suppose?" "Yes, we've
got an ostler." "Let me
see him." Presently he
came, and a shaggy-
headed young fellow he
was. "Now attend to
me, young man," says
I; "I'm a Detective
Officer from London.
This man's name is
Thompson. I have taken
him into custody for
felony. I am going to
take him to the
railroad station. I call
upon you in the Queen's
name to assist me;
and mind you, my
friend, you'll get
yourself into more
trouble than you know
of, if you don't!' You
never saw a person
open his eyes so wide.
"Now, Thompson, come
along!" says I. But when
I took out the
handcuffs, Thompson
cries, "No! None of
that! I won't stand
THEM! I'll go along with
you quiet, but I won't
bear none of that!"
"Tally-ho Thompson," I
said, "I'm willing to
behave as a man to
you, if you are willing to
behave as a man to
me. Give me your word
that you'll come
peaceably along, and I
don't want to handcuff
you." "I will," says
Thompson, "but I'll have
a glass of brandy
first." "I don't care if
I've another," said I.
"We'll have two more,
Missis," said the
friends, "and confound
you, Constable, you'll
give your man a drop,
won't you?" I was
agreeable to that, so
we had it all round, and
then my man and I
took Tally-ho
Thompson safe to the
railroad, and I carried
him to London that
night. He was
afterwards acquitted,
on account of a defect
in the evidence; and I
understand he always
praises me up to the
skies, and says I'm one
of the best of men.'
This story coming to a
termination amidst
general applause,
Inspector Wield, after a
little grave smoking,
fixes his eye on his
host, and thus delivers
'It wasn't a bad plant
that of mine, on Fikey,
the man accused of
forging the Sou'-
Western Railway
debentures - it was
only t'other day -
because the reason
why? I'll tell you.
'I had information that
Fikey and his brother
kept a factory over
yonder there,' -
indicating any region on
the Surrey side of the
river - 'where he
bought second-hand
carriages; so after I'd
tried in vain to get hold
of him by other means,
I wrote him a letter in
an assumed name,
saying that I'd got a
horse and shay to
dispose of, and would
drive down next day
that he might view the
lot, and make an offer
- very reasonable it
was, I said - a reg'lar
bargain. Straw and me
then went off to a
friend of mine that's in
the livery and job
business, and hired a
turn-out for the day, a
precious smart turn-
out it was - quite a
slap-up thing! Down we
drove, accordingly,
with a friend (who's not
in the Force himself);
and leaving my friend in
the shay near a public-
house, to take care of
the horse, we went to
the factory, which was
some little way off. In
the factory, there was
a number of strong
fellows at work, and
after reckoning 'em up,
it was clear to me that
it wouldn't do to try it
on there. They were
too many for us. We
must get our man out
of doors. "Mr. Fikey at
home?" "No, he ain't."
"Expected home
soon?" "Why, no, not
soon." "Ah! Is his
brother here?" "I'M his
brother." "Oh! well, this
is an ill-conwenience,
this is. I wrote him a
letter yesterday,
saying I'd got a little
turn-out to dispose of,
and I've took the
trouble to bring the
turn-out down a'
purpose, and now he
ain't in the way." "No,
he ain't in the way. You
couldn't make it
convenient to call
again, could you?"
"Why, no, I couldn't. I
want to sell; that's the
fact; and I can't put it
off. Could you find him
anywheres?" At first
he said No, he couldn't,
and then he wasn't
sure about it, and then
he'd go and try. So at
last he went up-stairs,
where there was a
sort of loft, and
presently down comes
my man himself in his
'"Well," he says, "this
seems to be rayther a
pressing matter of
yours." "Yes," I says, "it
IS rayther a pressing
matter, and you'll find
it a bargain - dirt
cheap." "I ain't in
partickler want of a
bargain just now," he
says, "but where is it?"
"Why," I says, "the
turn-out's just outside.
Come and look at it." He
hasn't any suspicions,
and away we go. And
the first thing that
happens is, that the
horse runs away with
my friend (who knows
no more of driving than
a child) when he takes
a little trot along the
road to show his paces.
You never saw such a
game in your life!
'When the bolt is over,
and the turn-out has
come to a standstill
again, Fikey walks
round and round it as
grave as a judge - me
too. "There, sir!" I says.
"There's a neat thing!"
"It ain't a bad style of
thing," he says. "I
believe you," says I.
"And there's a horse!" -
for I saw him looking at
it. "Rising eight!" I says,
rubbing his fore-legs.
(Bless you, there ain't a
man in the world knows
less of horses than I
do, but I'd heard my
friend at the Livery
Stables say he was
eight year old, so I
says, as knowing as
possible, "Rising eight.")
"Rising eight, is he?"
says he. "Rising eight,"
says I. "Well," he says,
"what do you want for
it?" "Why, the first and
last figure for the
whole concern is five-
and-twenty pound!"
"That's very cheap!" he
says, looking at me.
"Ain't it?" I says. "I told
you it was a bargain!
Now, without any
higgling and haggling
about it, what I want is
to sell, and that's my
price. Further, I'll make
it easy to you, and
take half the money
down, and you can do a
bit of stiff (1) for the
" Well," he says again,
"that's very cheap." "I
believe you," says I;
"get in and try it, and
you'll buy it. Come! take
a trial!"
'Ecod, he gets in, and
we get in, and we drive
along the road, to show
him to one of the
railway clerks that was
hid in the public- house
window to identify him.
But the clerk was
bothered, and didn't
know whether it was
him, or wasn't -
because the reason
why? I'll tell you, - on
account of his having
shaved his whiskers.
"It's a clever little
horse," he says, "and
trots well; and the
shay runs light." "Not a
doubt about it," I says.
"And now, Mr. Fikey, I
may as well make it all
right, without wasting
any more of your time.
The fact is, I'm
Inspector Wield, and
you're my prisoner."
"You don't mean that?"
he says. "I do, indeed."
"Then burn my body,"
says Fikey, "if this ain't
TOO bad!"
'Perhaps you never
saw a man so knocked
over with surprise. "I
hope you'll let me have
my coat?" he says. "By
all means." "Well, then,
let's drive to the
factory." "Why, not
exactly that, I think,"
said I; "I've been there,
once before, to-day.
Suppose we send for
it." He saw it was no go,
so he sent for it, and
put it on, and we drove
him up to London,
This reminiscence is in
the height of its
success, when a
general proposal is
made to the fresh-
complexioned, smooth-
faced officer, with the
strange air of
simplicity, to tell the
'Butcher's Story.'
The fresh-
complexioned, smooth-
faced officer, with the
strange air of
simplicity, began with a
rustic smile, and in a
soft, wheedling tone of
voice, to relate the
Butcher's Story, thus:
'It's just about six
years ago, now, since
information was given
at Scotland Yard of
there being extensive
robberies of lawns and
silks going on, at some
wholesale houses in the
City. Directions were
given for the business
being looked into; and
Straw, and Fendall, and
me, we were all in it.'
'When you received
your instructions,' said
we, 'you went away,
and held a sort of
Cabinet Council
The smooth-faced
officer coaxingly
replied, 'Ye-es. Just so.
We turned it over
among ourselves a
good deal. It appeared,
when we went into it,
that the goods were
sold by the receivers
extraordinarily cheap -
much cheaper than
they could have been if
they had been honestly
come by. The receivers
were in the trade, and
kept capital shops -
establishments of the
first respectability -
one of 'em at the West
End, one down in
Westminster. After a
lot of watching and
inquiry, and this and
that among ourselves,
we found that the job
was managed, and the
purchases of the
stolen goods made, at
a little public-house
near Smithfield, down
by Saint
Bartholomew's; where
the Warehouse
Porters, who were the
thieves, took 'em for
that purpose, don't you
see? and made
appointments to meet
the people that went
between themselves
and the receivers. This
public-house was
principally used by
journeymen butchers
from the country, out
of place, and in want of
situations; so, what did
we do, but - ha, ha, ha!
- we agreed that I
should be dressed up
like a butcher myself,
and go and live there!'
Never, surely, was a
faculty of observation
better brought to bear
upon a purpose, than
that which picked out
this officer for the
part. Nothing in all
creation could have
suited him better. Even
while he spoke, he
became a greasy,
sleepy, shy, good-
natured, chuckle-
headed, unsuspicious,
and confiding young
butcher. His very hair
seemed to have suet in
it, as he made it
smooth upon his head,
and his fresh
complexion to be
lubricated by large
quantities of animal
' - So I - ha, ha,
ha!' (always with the
confiding snigger of
the foolish young
butcher) 'so I dressed
myself in the regular
way, made up a little
bundle of clothes, and
went to the public-
house, and asked if I
could have a lodging
there? They says,
"yes, you can have a
lodging here," and I got
a bedroom, and settled
myself down in the tap.
There was a number of
people about the place,
and coming backwards
and forwards to the
house; and first one
says, and then another
says, "Are you from
the country, young
man?" "Yes," I says, "I
am. I'm come out of
Northamptonshire, and
I'm quite lonely here,
for I don't know London
at all, and it's such a
mighty big town." "It IS
a big town," they says.
"Oh, it's a VERY big
town!" I says. "Really
and truly I never was in
such a town. It quite
confuses of me!" and
all that, you know.
'When some of the
journeymen Butchers
that used the house,
found that I wanted a
place, they says, "Oh,
we'll get you a place!"
And they actually took
me to a sight of
places, in Newgate
Market, Newport
Market, Clare, Carnaby
- I don't know where all.
But the wages was -
ha, ha, ha! - was not
sufficient, and I never
could suit myself, don't
you see? Some of the
queer frequenters of
the house were a little
suspicious of me at
first, and I was obliged
to be very cautious
indeed how I
communicated with
Straw or Fendall.
Sometimes, when I
went out, pretending
to stop and look into
the shop windows, and
just casting my eye
round, I used to see
some of 'em following
me; but, being perhaps
better accustomed
than they thought for,
to that sort of thing, I
used to lead 'em on as
far as I thought
necessary or
convenient -
sometimes a long way
- and then turn sharp
round, and meet 'em,
and say, "Oh, dear, how
glad I am to come upon
you so fortunate! This
London's such a place,
I'm blowed if I ain't lost
again!" And then we'd
go back all together, to
the public-house, and -
ha, ha, ha! and smoke
our pipes, don't you
'They were very
attentive to me, I am
sure. It was a common
thing, while I was living
there, for some of 'em
to take me out, and
show me London. They
showed me the Prisons
- showed me Newgate -
and when they showed
me Newgate, I stops at
the place where the
Porters pitch their
loads, and says, "Oh
dear, is this where
they hang the men? Oh
Lor!" "That!" they says,
"what a simple cove he
is! THAT ain't it!" And
then, they pointed out
which WAS it, and I says
"Lor!" and they says,
"Now you'll know it
agen, won't you?" And I
said I thought I should if
I tried hard - and I
assure you I kept a
sharp look out for the
City Police when we
were out in this way,
for if any of 'em had
happened to know me,
and had spoke to me, it
would have been all up
in a minute. However,
by good luck such a
thing never happened,
and all went on quiet:
though the difficulties I
had in communicating
with my brother
officers were quite
'The stolen goods that
were brought to the
public-house by the
Warehouse Porters,
were always disposed
of in a back parlour.
For a long time, I never
could get into this
parlour, or see what
was done there. As I
sat smoking my pipe,
like an innocent young
chap, by the tap-room
fire, I'd hear some of
the parties to the
robbery, as they came
in and out, say softly
to the landlord, "Who's
that? What does HE do
here?" "Bless your
soul," says the
landlord, "he's only a" -
ha, ha, ha! - "he's only a
green young fellow
from the country, as is
looking for a butcher's
sitiwation. Don't mind
HIM!" So, in course of
time, they were so
convinced of my being
green, and got to be so
accustomed to me,
that I was as free of
the parlour as any of
'em, and I have seen as
much as Seventy
Pounds' Worth of fine
lawn sold there, in one
night, that was stolen
from a warehouse in
Friday Street. After
the sale the buyers
always stood treat -
hot supper, or dinner,
or what not - and
they'd say on those
occasions, "Come on,
Butcher! Put your best
leg foremost, young
'un, and walk into it!"
Which I used to do - and
hear, at table, all
manner of particulars
that it was very
important for us
Detectives to know.
'This went on for ten
weeks. I lived in the
public-house all the
time, and never was
out of the Butcher's
dress - except in bed.
At last, when I had
followed seven of the
thieves, and set 'em to
rights - that's an
expression of ours,
don't you see, by which
I mean to say that I
traced 'em, and found
out where the
robberies were done,
and all about 'em -
Straw, and Fendall, and
I, gave one another the
office, and at a time
agreed upon, a descent
was made upon the
public-house, and the
effected. One of the
first things the
officers did, was to
collar me - for the
parties to the robbery
weren't to suppose
yet, that I was
anything but a Butcher
- on which the landlord
cries out, "Don't take
HIM," he says,
"whatever you do! He's
only a poor young chap
from the country, and
butter wouldn't melt in
his mouth!" However,
they - ha, ha, ha! - they
took me, and
pretended to search
my bedroom, where
nothing was found but
an old fiddle belonging
to the landlord, that
had got there
somehow or another.
But, it entirely changed
the landlord's opinion,
for when it was
produced, he says, "My
fiddle! The Butcher's a
purloiner! I give him into
custody for the
robbery of a musical
'The man that had
stolen the goods in
Friday Street was not
taken yet. He had told
me, in confidence, that
he had his suspicions
there was something
wrong (on account of
the City Police having
captured one of the
party), and that he was
going to make himself
scarce. I asked him,
"Where do you mean to
go, Mr. Shepherdson?"
"Why, Butcher," says
he, "the Setting Moon,
in the Commercial
Road, is a snug house,
and I shall bang out
there for a time. I shall
call myself Simpson,
which appears to me
to be a modest sort of
a name. Perhaps you'll
give us a look in,
Butcher?" "Well," says I,
"I think I WILL give you a
call" - which I fully
intended, don't you
see, because, of
course, he was to be
taken! I went over to
the Setting Moon next
day, with a brother
officer, and asked at
the bar for Simpson.
They pointed out his
room, up-stairs. As we
were going up, he looks
down over the
banister, and calls out,
"Halloa, Butcher! is that
you?" "Yes, it's me. How
do you find yourself?"
"Bobbish," he says; "but
who's that with you?"
"It's only a young man,
that's a friend of
mine," I says. "Come
along, then," says he;
"any friend of the
Butcher's is as
welcome as the
Butcher!" So, I made
my friend acquainted
with him, and we took
him into custody.
'You have no idea, sir,
what a sight it was, in
Court, when they first
knew that I wasn't a
Butcher, after all! I
wasn't produced at the
first examination,
when there was a
remand; but I was at
the second. And when I
stepped into the box, in
full police uniform, and
the whole party saw
how they had been
done, actually a groan
of horror and dismay
proceeded from 'em in
the dock!
'At the Old Bailey, when
their trials came on,
Mr. Clarkson was
engaged for the
defence, and he
COULDN'T make out
how it was, about the
Butcher. He thought, all
along, it was a real
Butcher. When the
counsel for the
prosecution said, "I will
now call before you,
gentlemen, the Police-
officer," meaning
myself, Mr. Clarkson
says, "Why Police-
officer? Why more
Police-officers? I don't
want Police. We have
had a great deal too
much of the Police. I
want the Butcher!"
However, sir, he had
the Butcher and the
Police- officer, both in
one. Out of seven
prisoners committed
for trial, five were
found guilty, and some
of 'em were
transported. The
respectable firm at
the West End got a
term of imprisonment;
and that's the
Butcher's Story!'
The story done, the
Butcher again resolved
himself into the
Detective. But, he was
so extremely tickled by
their having taken him
about, when he was
that Dragon in disguise,
to show him London,
that he could not help
reverting to that point
in his narrative; and
gently repeating with
the Butcher snigger,
'"Oh, dear," I says, "is
that where they hang
the men? Oh, Lor!"
"THAT!" says they.
"What a simple cove he
It being now late, and
the party very modest
in their fear of being
too diffuse, there were
some tokens of
separation; when
Sergeant Dornton, the
soldierly-looking man,
said, looking round him
with a smile:
'Before we break up,
sir, perhaps you might
have some
amusement in hearing
of the Adventures of a
Carpet Bag. They are
very short; and, I think,
We welcomed the
Carpet Bag, as cordially
as Mr. Shepherdson
welcomed the false
Butcher at the Setting
Moon. Sergeant
Dornton proceeded.
'In 1847, I was
despatched to
Chatham, in search of
one Mesheck, a Jew. He
had been carrying on,
pretty heavily, in the
bill-stealing way,
getting acceptances
from young men of
good connexions (in the
army chiefly), on
pretence of discount,
and bolting with the
'Mesheck was off,
before I got to
Chatham. All I could
learn about him was,
that he had gone,
probably to London,
and had with him - a
Carpet Bag.
'I came back to town,
by the last train from
Blackwall, and made
inquiries concerning a
Jew passenger with - a
Carpet Bag.
'The office was shut
up, it being the last
train. There were only
two or three porters
left. Looking after a
Jew with a Carpet Bag,
on the Blackwall
Railway, which was
then the high road to a
great Military Depot,
was worse than looking
after a needle in a
hayrick. But it
happened that one of
these porters had
carried, for a certain
Jew, to a certain
public-house, a certain
- Carpet Bag.
'I went to the public-
house, but the Jew had
only left his luggage
there for a few hours,
and had called for it in
a cab, and taken it
away. I put such
questions there, and to
the porter, as I
thought prudent, and
got at this description
of - the Carpet Bag.
'It was a bag which had,
on one side of it,
worked in worsted, a
green parrot on a
stand. A green parrot
on a stand was the
means by which to
identify that - Carpet
'I traced Mesheck, by
means of this green
parrot on a stand, to
Cheltenham, to
Birmingham, to
Liverpool, to the
Atlantic Ocean. At
Liverpool he was too
many for me. He had
gone to the United
States, and I gave up all
thoughts of Mesheck,
and likewise of his -
Carpet Bag.
'Many months
afterwards - near a
year afterwards -
there was a bank in
Ireland robbed of seven
thousand pounds, by a
person of the name of
Doctor Dundey, who
escaped to America;
from which country
some of the stolen
notes came home. He
was supposed to have
bought a farm in New
Jersey. Under proper
management, that
estate could be seized
and sold, for the
benefit of the parties
he had defrauded. I was
sent off to America
for this purpose.
'I landed at Boston. I
went on to New York. I
found that he had
lately changed New
York paper-money for
New Jersey paper
money, and had banked
cash in New Brunswick.
To take this Doctor
Dundey, it was
necessary to entrap
him into the State of
New York, which
required a deal of
artifice and trouble. At
one time, he couldn't
be drawn into an
appointment. At
another time, he
appointed to come to
meet me, and a New
York officer, on a
pretext I made; and
then his children had
the measles. At last he
came, per steamboat,
and I took him, and
lodged him in a New
York prison called the
Tombs; which I dare
say you know, sir?'
acknowledgment to
that effect.
'I went to the Tombs,
on the morning after
his capture, to attend
the examination before
the magistrate. I was
passing through the
magistrate's private
room, when, happening
to look round me to
take notice of the
place, as we generally
have a habit of doing, I
clapped my eyes, in
one corner, on a -
Carpet Bag.
'What did I see upon
that Carpet Bag, if
you'll believe me, but a
green parrot on a
stand, as large as life!
'"That Carpet Bag, with
the representation of
a green parrot on a
stand," said I, "belongs
to an English Jew,
named Aaron Mesheck,
and to no other man,
alive or dead!"
'I give you my word the
New York Police
Officers were doubled
up with surprise.
'"How did you ever
come to know that?"
said they.
'"I think I ought to know
that green parrot by
this time," said I; "for I
have had as pretty a
dance after that bird,
at home, as ever I had,
in all my life!"'
'And was it Mesheck's?'
we submissively
'Was it, sir? Of course
it was! He was in
custody for another
offence, in that very
identical Tombs, at
that very identical
time. And, more than
that! Some
memoranda, relating
to the fraud for which I
had vainly endeavoured
to take him, were
found to be, at that
moment, lying in that
very same individual -
Carpet Bag!'
Such are the curious
coincidences and such
is the peculiar ability,
always sharpening and
being improved by
practice, and always
adapting itself to every
variety of
circumstances, and
opposing itself to
every new device that
perverted ingenuity
can invent, for which
this important social
branch of the public
service is remarkable!
For ever on the watch,
with their wits
stretched to the
utmost, these officers
have, from day to day
and year to year, to
set themselves
against every novelty
of trickery and
dexterity that the
combined imaginations
of all the lawless
rascals in England can
devise, and to keep
pace with every such
invention that comes
out. In the Courts of
Justice, the materials
of thousands of such
stories as we have
narrated - often
elevated into the
marvellous and
romantic, by the
circumstances of the
case - are dryly
compressed into the
set phrase, 'in
consequence of
information I received, I
did so and so.' Suspicion
was to be directed, by
careful inference and
deduction, upon the
right person; the right
person was to be
taken, wherever he
had gone, or whatever
he was doing to avoid
detection: he is taken;
there he is at the bar;
that is enough. From
information I, the
officer, received, I did
it; and, according to
the custom in these
cases, I say no more.
These games of chess,
played with live pieces,
are played before small
audiences, and are
chronicled nowhere.
The interest of the
game supports the
player. Its results are
enough for justice. To
compare great things
with small, suppose
informing the public
that from information
he had received he had
discovered a new
planet; or COLUMBUS
informing the public of
his day that from
information he had
received he had
discovered a new
continent; so the
Detectives inform it
that they have
discovered a new fraud
or an old offender, and
the process is
Thus, at midnight,
closed the proceedings
of our curious and
interesting party. But
one other
circumstance finally
wound up the evening,
after our Detective
guests had left us. One
of the sharpest among
them, and the officer
best acquainted with
the Swell Mob, had his
pocket picked, going

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