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The Detective Police
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
incompetent 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 it.
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 windows.