The old man sank his face in his hands. “God help me!” he cried. “But I would not have let the young man come to harm. I give you my word that I would have spoken out if it went against him at the Assizes.”

The Boscombe Valley Mystery, short story

Hi. The context is that the old man was the real murderer but the young man was wrongly charged with murder instead of the old man. The young man was going to be tried by the Assizes.

Question: since the young man’s trial is in the future in relation to the time when the quoted sentence is uttered, why is “would have” used here? Shouldn’t it be “would”?

Thank you.


Yes, but I can’t grasp their ideas.

So do you have a more common and general example of similar usage?